Microscopic Robots Exhibit Autonomous Capability for Basic Tasks

March 13, 2024

The concept of tiny robots navigating our bloodstream to deliver medication or combat pathogens has long been a fixture of science fiction. Yet, this futuristic vision edges closer to reality as electrical engineers reveal swimming microrobots, smaller than grains of sand, equipped with sufficient computing power to autonomously perform basic tasks. Daniel Goldman, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, lauds this advancement, noting its potential to lay the groundwork for truly autonomous microscale robots. 

The challenge of achieving autonomy in microrobots has historically been multifaceted, explains Marc Miskin, an electrical engineer at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) leading the development. Until recently, miniaturizing computing systems to fit within microrobots posed a significant hurdle, with the smallest computers only shrinking below 1 millimeter around 2020. Furthermore, integrating microelectronics with the robot's mechanical components and ensuring efficient operation on minimal power remain ongoing challenges. 

The breakthrough, presented at a recent American Physical Society meeting, marks a significant stride towards realizing the autonomous capabilities of microrobots, promising revolutionary advancements in medical and technological fields.

SOURCE: https://www.science.org/content/article/tiny-swimming-robot-can-think-itself