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Insectlike 'microids' Might Walk, Run, Work, in Colonies


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solid-state microid

This concept of a solid-state construction with no moving parts depicts a new approach in the design of miniature, insect-like microids the size of ants that would move their tiny legs and mandibles using solid-state "muscles." Advanced computer simulations indicate the synthetic bugs would have significantly better dexterity than previous microscale robots, while having the ability to "scavenge vibrational energy" from the environment to recharge their power supply.

Credit: Jason Clark / Purdue University

Purdue University researchers have developed microids, miniature, insect-like robots that feature tiny legs and mandibles built using solid-state muscles. Computer simulations indicate that microids will have much better dexterity than previous microscale robots. The microids might be able to "scavenge vibrational energy" from the environment to recharge their power supply, says Purdue professor Jason Clark. "Because the microids are solid state without any discrete parts such as gears that wear due to frictional contact, they will likely be long-lasting and robust," Clark says.

The solid-state muscles also will enable the robot to easily move through harsh environments such as sand or water. The mini-robots could be mass produced using techniques established in the semiconductor industry. The microids are designed to move like most insects, using a tripod gait in which only three of the six legs are on the ground at a time.

From Purdue University News
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