Engineers create 1/100th of an inch wide micro-robotic tentacles

Imagine a swarm of ant-robots carrying strands of threads to build a nest. That could become a reality with the research presented by a team of engineers from Iowa State University. The engineers have developed 8 mm long micro-robotic tentacles that can aid tiny robots in gripping & handling delicate objects. The tentacles are essentially microtubes (created using a new production technique) that wrap around very gently around an object. Made out of a soft rubbery material called transparent elastomer (PDMS), the tube had one end sealed and air was pumped in and out of it. The air pressure created a circular bend on the micro tube's wall. Moreover, a small lump of PDMS was added to the tube's base to amplify the bend and create a two-turn spiraling and coiling action.

A micro-tentacle spirals around an ant.​

Such spiraling tentacles are capable of mimicing the action of squeezing an objects found in nature. At centimeter-scale, there's a multi-turn spiraling motion, whereas at the millimeter and sub-millimeter scales, they could bend only up to a single turn. 

The applications of such a technology can be found in the medical field as the micro-robotic tentacles can be inserted into a body without damaging tissues or even tiny blood vessels.


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