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Microscale and nanoscale robotics systems [Grand Challenges of Robotics]

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1 Author(s)
Sitti, M. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA

Depending on their overall size, sensing and actuation precision, part or tool size, and task space, robotic systems can be classified as microrobotics or nanorobotics, respectively. Micro/nanorobotics represents these two different scale robotics areas jointly while keeping their clear scale differences in mind. At its current early infancy, the field of micro/nanorobotics has two major research thrust areas. Analogous to the manipulation area in macroscale robotics, the first area explores new methods for programmable manipulation and assembly of micro- and nanoscale entities. Here, the overall micro/nanorobotic system size can be very large, while only the manipulation tools, manipulated objects, and sensing, actuation, and manipulation precision are required to be at the micro/nanoscale. On the other hand, the second research area focuses on overall miniaturization of mobile robots down to mum overall sizes with various locomotion capabilities such as flying, swimming, walking, hopping, rolling, and climbing. In these mobile robotic systems, overall system size is very limited, which induces severe constraints in utilized actuators, sensors, motion mechanisms, power sources, computing power, and wireless communication capability. These two research thrusts are described in detail in the following sections

Published in:

Robotics & Automation Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 1 )