Researchers at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., have announced the creation of the world’s smallest mobile, controllable robot.


The scientists say about 200 of the robots — each nearly as wide as a strand of human hair — could march in a line across the top of a piece of plain M&M candy.



It’s tens of times smaller in length, and thousands of times smaller in mass than previous untethered microrobots that are controllable, said Computer Science Professor Bruce Donald, lead researcher on the project. “When we say ‘controllable,’ it means it’s like a car; you can steer it anywhere on a flat surface, and drive it wherever you want to go.



It doesn’t drive on wheels, but crawls like a silicon inchworm, making tens of thousands of 10-nanometer steps every second. It turns by putting a silicon ‘foot’ out and pivoting like a motorcyclist skidding around a tight turn.



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