The Smallest Robot in the World

Bruce Donald and his colleagues, engineers and computer scientists from Dartmouth College have built the smallest robot in the world which is the thickness of human hair and shorter than the sharp point of a thumb tack, integrated in a small package, wireless powered and controlled. However, the robot takes over ten thousand steps a second and continue their motion for over half an hour with no sign of fatigue, with net motion of over one foot in length. That represents over 30 million steps; a human taking that many steps would go over half way around the world.


60x250x10 micro-meter robot made of polycrystaline silicon and chromium
Utilizes surface micromachining (MEMS) with stress engineering to produce out-of-plane curl.
Monolithic fabrication from poly-silicon includes on-board:
power and control signal pickup,
decoding and state memory (electro-mechanical), and
locomotion and turning.
Two gaits:
forward walking: MEMS Scratch Drive propulsion only, and
turning: Propulsion and Turning Arm both deployed.
12nm average step size.
Operation demonstrated at 16kHz (not an intrinsic speed limit).
Teleoperation alows motion anywhere on a plane.
Moves on an insulated substrate with submerged interdigitated electrodes.
Control is one-wire (plus ground) with four level logic, and is independent of robot position or orientation on substrate surface.

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