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Navigation of Magnetic Microrobots With Different User Interaction Levels

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7 Author(s)
Gioia Lucarini ; BioRobotics Inst., Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy ; Stefano Palagi ; Alessandro Levi ; Barbara Mazzolai
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Micro-technologies based on wirelessly powered and manoeuvred submillimeter device, i.e.,microrobots, are attracting growing attention. Their application in lab-on-a-chip systems, such as micromanipulation and in vitro cell sorting, is expected to steeply increase. However, the actuation, powering and control of microrobots are challenges that still need concrete solutions. Magnetic fields generally enable wireless navigation of microrobots, but proper control architectures and magnetic navigation systems are needed, depending on the specific task and on the level of interaction required to the user. Here we present a magnetic navigation platform intended for lab-on-a-chip applications and we address its usability with different levels of human involvement by using two control architectures: teleoperated and autonomous. We perform an experimental analysis to demonstrate that both architectures, enrolling different levels of interaction by the user, lead to reliable execution of the microrobotic task. First, we validate the open-loop response of the microrobotic system, and second, we evaluate the performance of the system by testing both control architectures with a standard mobility task. The results show that users can teleoperate the microrobot with 100% success rate, in 14.4±1.9s with a normalized spatial mean error of 0.60±0.13. Moreover, results show a fast decaying learning curve for the users involved in the study. Compared to this, when the navigation task is performed by the autonomous control, 100% success rate, a time of 8.0±0.5s and a normalized spatial mean error of 0.50±0.05 are obtained. Finally, we quantitatively demonstrate how both control methodologies enable very smooth movements of the microrobot, suggesting application for any task where repeatable and dexterous movements in liquid microenvironments are key requirements.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 3 )