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Cell-Sized Robots Can Sense Their Environment


Design of the tiny devices, which are able to float freely in liquid or air.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created what may be the smallest robots yet that can sense their environment, store data, and even carry out computational tasks.

Credit: Michael Strano, Volodymyr Koman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed cell-sized robots that can sense their environment, store data, and conduct computational tasks.

The devices consist of tiny electronic circuits made of two-dimensional materials, piggybacking on particles called colloids.

The robots are self-powered, requiring no external power source or internal batteries, with a photodiode providing the electricity to drive the circuits' computation and memory.

The robots can be interrogated via probes to deliver their data, and the researchers want to add communication capabilities to enable the particles to deliver their data without the need for physical contact.

MIT's Michael Strano says the robots are "very smart particles, by current standards," and the technology could be viewed as the introduction of a new field in robotics.

From MIT News
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