AI News, Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers

Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers

We're used to thinking of robots as mechanical entities, but at very small scales, it sometimes becomes easier to use existing structures (like microorganisms that respond to magnetic fields or even swarms of bacteria) instead of trying to design and construct one (or lots) of teeny tiny artificial machines.

Besides being able to create as many robots as you want of differing sizes out of absolutely nothing (robot construction just involves a fine-tipped syringe full of air), the laser-controlled bubbles have another big advantage over more common microbots in that it's possible to control many different bubbles independently using separate lasers or light patterns from a digital projector.

The researchers are currently investigating how to use teams of tiny bubbles to cooperatively transport and assemble microbeads into complex shapes, and they hope to eventually develop a system that can provide real-time autonomous control based on visual feedback.

Researchers Turn Bubbles Into Laser-Controlled Microrobots

In lab experiments the bubbles were created in a saline solution and controlled with a 400 mW infrared laser that was shone onto its inner surface.

As the fluid surrounding the bubble was heated by the laser, it automatically moved to the cooler side which resulted in the bubble being pushed towards where the laser was targeted.

And while the bubble microrobot's capabilities are limited, they can be very useful as microscopic bulldozers, pushing and positioning other tiny particles and structures with remarkably fine control and accuracy.

Scientists Create Laser-Controlled Micro-Robot from a Bubble

We’d like to think that here at Inhabitat, we are rather clued in to the latest in robotics, however a new development has blown our minds.

By constantly moving the laser to different sides of the bubble, the scientific team is able to achieve complete 360 degree steering, as well as controlling the bubble’s speed via the intensity of the laser.

As well as being able to create robots from (literally) thin air, the scientific team has another big advantage over traditional microbots, in that they are able to control many different bubbles independently using separate lasers or light patterns from a digital projector.

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A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii are creating these bubbles from a saline solution, then using the laser you see to turn them into microrobots. The laser controls the speed...

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