Scientists are exploring uses for robots that can be enveloped in an exoskeleton made from folding a thin sheet of plastic. Cuts are made into a sheet, and then applying heat makes them fold up. The robot can effectively become a rolling ball, a boat, or a glider. They can be developed to have super strong muscles according to Daniela Rus1, but making tiny robots may be the most promising as a tool to serve humans.
One of the projected exciting uses is in medicine where once inside a human body, an appropriately designed robot could perform a variety of procedures without a single cut with a knife. These include surgery, collection of tissue samples, removing a foreign object swallowed by a child, and dispensing medicine to a particular body site. A magnet inserted into the tiny robot will allow it to be controlled.
The robot could be frozen in an ice pill, which will melt in your tummy and out will pop the robot reporting for duby.
I first heard about it on NPR’s Science Friday and had to look it up. Check out this source to see one of these things scuttling around a dinner plate. If I saw one on my kitchen floor, my first instinct would be to stomp on it.
Despite looking like darting insects, part of their beauty is their cost benefit. They are affordable for education and manufacturing marvelous toys. Too bad they’re not yet perfected with Christmas coming up.
- Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT
PS I’m changing my blog pattern to every other Saturday from the 10th, 20th, and 30th of the month. I’ve noticed more readers on Saturdays.;