Micro Robot Penny
Photo credit: Allison Carter, Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech researchers have created a microscopic 3D-printed robot harnesses vibrations from piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources and tiny speakers, for locomotion. These so called “micro-bristle-bots” can work in groups to detect environmental changes, move materials, or in the future, repair humans from inside their body. Currently, the prototypes respond to different vibration frequencies depending on their configurations, which enables esearchers to control individual bristle bots by simply adjusting the vibration. Read more for a video and additional information.

These tiny robots consist of a piezoelectric actuator that is glued onto a 3D-printed polymer body created using two-photon polymerization lithography (TPP). The actuator then generates vibration, powered externally, or the vibrations can also come from a piezoelectric shaker beneath the surface on which the robots move, such as a tiny acoustic speaker.

“We are working to make the technology robust, and we have a lot of potential applications in mind. We are working at the intersection of mechanics, electronics, biology and physics. It’s a very rich area and there’s a lot of room for multidisciplinary concepts,” said Azadeh Ansari, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.