Scientists have developed a pair of robotic hands that are both strong and sensitive
The tweezers can guide themselves to pick up and move individual cells without damaging them, and have a grip that can be as slight as 20 nanoNewtons of force. In fact, so advanced are the little grippers, that they can be hitched up to a microscope and, with the right software, function without human control. More below.
The tweezers were developed by a team from the University of Toronto, and use basic robotic concepts, but on a microscopic scale. What is so extraordinary about them, however, is that they can sense when they are getting close to things, such as surfaces or cells, and so avoid collisions. The tweezers are also aware of the strength of their grip. Manipulated by the software, they can get into position much faster than they could if they were controlled by a person.
The tweezers are just three millimeters long, and their tips just ten micrometers wide. Expect to see them being used in tissue engineering or for creating nano- and microscale devices.