It might sound like the beginning of a nightmare, but researchers are developing a line of small, insect-inspired robots that could one day crawl into your body and help fix broken bits. They’re suspicious in their squishiness. Soft, flexible, and shaped like spiders. But their creators think future versions could be designed to perform tasks that are out of reach of humans.
In a paper published recently in the journal Advanced Materials, a team of roboticists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Boston University report that they’ve created these multifunctional microbots thanks to a new fabrication process that lets them build millimeter-scale machines with micrometer-scale features. Similarly sized robots have been created before, but not ones as dynamic as this. To demonstrate their breakthrough, they created a transparent spider bot modeled off of the brilliant Australian peacock spider.