Thursday, May 3, 2007

milibots - nanonauts

A new breed of astronauts is born in Glasgow's laboratories. Taking advantage of miniaturization, the engineers there are cooking up robots not bigger than 1 mm. Despite their size, they can communicate, work in formation and take scientific measurements.
The most impressive part though, is their way of moving. They use small voltages to deform a polymer which is attached to the main chip. This allows them to change shape and increase or decrease the drag coefficient. Thus, they can use wind for moving towards a target. Actually they hop towards the target, taking advantage even of the swirling winds.
The nanonauts can be used to explore planets like Mars and Venus, but their size is limited by the density of the planet's atmosphere.

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