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All-Terrain Microbot Moves by Tumbling Over Complex Topography


Schematic of the new microTUM robot.

The "microscale magnetic tumbling robot" developed at Purdue University's Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab is propelled by a constantly spinning magnetic field.

Credit: Chenghao Bi, Maria Guix/Purdue University

Researchers at Purdue University's Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab have created a "microscale magnetic tumbling robot" (microTUM) propelled by a constantly spinning magnetic field in an end-over-end or sideways tumbling motion.

The dumbbell-shaped machine is fashioned from a polymer and outfitted with two magnetic ends, and a non-magnetic midsection could be used be used to carry cargo.

Purdue professor David Cappelleri notes the microTUM can traverse uneven terrain in dry and wet environments.

"Though the continuously rotating field used for the [microTUM] is harder to implement than an alternating field, the trade-off is that the tumbling robot always has a point in contact with the ground, provided that there are no sharp drop-offs or cliffs in its path," says Purdue's Chenghao Bi. "This sustained contact means that the [microTUM] design can take advantage of the constant adhesion and frictional forces between itself and the surface below it to climb steep inclined terrains."

From Purdue University News
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