People have always envisioned the future as being filled with robots that do everything from cooking to cleaning and driving. But what you might not realize is that these robots come in a variety of shapes and sizes — with some being too small for the naked eye to see.
The Field of Microbotics
There are several technologies to look out for today such as 3D printing and virtual reality. Alongside these is the field of microbotics, which focuses on the development of robots that are only a millimeter long at most. And while the tech is still in its infancy, there are current technologies that speed up its development.
For one, the smartphones and tablets that you use already rely on gyroscopes. These are sensors that help devices identify and adjust their orientation. Gyroscopes are products resulting from the field of microelectromechanical systems or MEMS, which are useful in the development of microbots as well.
Likewise, the demand for better wireless connections is beneficial for microbots as well. It’s because these tiny robots need an efficient method of communicating with each other. Otherwise, they cannot accomplish complex objectives. Thus, any new developments in wifi are good for microbotics.
Kilobots at Harvard University
There was already a hint of what microbotics had in store for humankind way back in 2014. At Harvard University, a computer scientist was able to order a thousand robots to follow a command. Once told to take the form of a star or a letter, these machines began blinking and forming the specified shape.
These robots received the command through infrared. And while they weren’t small enough to fit the classification of microbots, these Kilobots showed the potential of this particular field of robotics — it proved that a group of ‘simple’ robots might just be better than one massive, complicated machine.
Furthermore, the Kilobots helped researchers understand collective AI. It works the same way the cells inside humans cooperate to keep the body healthy and moving. The ability of these Kilobots to identify mistakes and adjust accordingly is exciting.
In the future, tens of thousands of tiny robots can work together to help in disaster areas. They can quickly change in form to access narrow sections and assist rescuers. But their system needs to be secured, which is why the main device should have something similar to a VPN robot for PC.
Construction and Medicine
In Silicon Valley, there’s a research institute and organization known as SRI International. They have the MicroFactory, a platform where magnetic robots just half a millimeter in length work together to build fascinating structures. The future could be witness to microbots working with massive 3D printers to construct elaborate homes and facilities.
Plus, the medical community will appreciate the entry of microbots as well. Back in 2017, researchers used magnetic, microscopic cubes to capture yeast cells. This could pave the way for microbots hunting down dangerous cells inside human bodies.
The possibilities for microbotics is endless. What’s important now is for researchers to get the necessary equipment and funding to explore the field even further.