Tiny “Walking” Motor Image
This walking microrobot was built by the MIT team from a set of just five basic parts including a coil, a magnet, and stiff and flexible structural pieces. (Photo by Will Langford)

A new approach developed at MIT to building robots is based on a set of five millimeter-scale components, all of which can be attached to each other by a standard connector. Using this simple kit of tiny parts, a motor was assembled that “walks” across surfaces. The system is a significant step toward creating a standardized kit of parts that could be used to assemble robots with specific capabilities adapted to a particular task or set of tasks.

Such purpose-built robots could then be disassembled and reassembled as needed in a variety of forms, without the need to design and manufacture new robots from scratch for each application. The size of the building blocks can be chosen to match their application; nanometer-sized parts to make nanorobots, and meter-sized parts to make megarobots.

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