3D-Printed, Vibration-Powered Robot is Ant-Sized

Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new type of tiny 3D-printed robot that moves by harnessing the vibration from piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources, or tiny speakers. The robots respond to different vibration frequencies depending on their configurations, allowing the researchers to control individual bots by adjusting the vibration. About two millimeters long (the size of the world's smallest ant), the tiny bots can cover four times their own length in one second. The "micro-bristle-bots" consist of a piezoelectric actuator glued onto a polymer body that is 3D-printed using two-photon polymerization lithography. The actuator generates vibration and is powered externally. Swarms of these micro-bristle-bots could one day work together in the future to sense environmental changes, move materials, or repair injuries inside the human body.