Like Some Men, This Tiny Robot Is Fueled By Alcohol

Harin - Aug 21, 2020


Like Some Men, This Tiny Robot Is Fueled By Alcohol

The burning of the methanol vapor leads to the expansion of tiny nickel-titanium alloy wires that act as the artificial muscles of the robot.

A team of researchers has designed a tiny microbot that is powered entirely by methanol. Called RoBeetle, the robot has a weight of no more than a tenth of a gram. The robot doesn’t require any other external power sources like electromagnetic fields or cables to crawl along.

In an interview with New Scientist, the robot’s designer, Nestor Perez-Arancibia from the University of Southern California, said that since batteries’ energy density was low, they needed to look for new sources of power. He added that they were able to build such a light and small robot since they didn’t have to rely on batteries.

Robeetle
Called RoBeetle, the robot has a weight of no more than a tenth of a gram.

So what is the robot’s working mechanism? The burning of the methanol vapor leads to the expansion of tiny nickel-titanium alloy wires that act as the artificial muscles of the robot. And when these wires cool down, these artificial muscles will contract.

According to the team’s research paper that can be found in Science Robotics, the tiny robot is truly a powerhouse. The RoBeetle can carry 2.6 times its light weight. Plus, it can also lug an additional fuel tank of 95 milligrams, allowing it to operate for a maximum of two hours.

Robeetle 2
It can also lug an additional fuel tank of 95 milligrams, allowing it to operate for a maximum of two hours.

What the team is doing now is to find out how to make the robot run for even longer and whether they can attach wings to it with DARPA’s funding, turning the robot into a completely autonomous flying robot.

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