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Friday April 29, 2005
3 PM
ENG Room 245

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"Miniature Micro/Nano-Robotics"
Metin Sitti
Carnegie Mellon University

Micro/Nanorobotics as an emerging robotics field is based on the micro/nanoscale physics, fabrication, sensing, actuation, system integration, and control taking the scaling effects into consideration. Micro/Nanorobotics encompasses: (i) programmable assembly of micro/nanoscale components; (ii) design and fabrication of micro/nanorobots with overall dimensions at the centimeter, millimeter and micrometer ranges and made of micro/nanoscopic components; and (iii) programming and coordination of large numbers of micro/nanorobots. This presentation will focus on current micro/nanomanipulation systems and miniature micro/nanorobot research activities at the NanoRobotics Laboratory. At first, Atomic Force Microscope based micro/nanomanipulation systems will be described briefly for particle assembly and novel fiber pulling applications. Next, various miniature micro/nanorobot projects will be reported. As the first miniature robot, miniature surface climbing robots inspired by geckos are presented. Geckos have unique dry adhesive fibers in their feet to climb any surface with a very high maneuverability. Discovering the principles of gecko adhesion recently, synthetic polymer micro/nanofibers are analyzed and fabricated in our team using micro/nanomolding and optical lithography techniques. Using these synthetic adhesives, tank, whegged, and legged type climbing robot prototypes are designed, built, and tested. The results of current prototype adhesive fibers and miniature climbing robots are reported. Next robot is the Water Walker which is inspired by water strider insects. It can stay and navigate on water surfaces using actuated side legs. Current analysis, design, test results, and issues are presented. We are also building a Water Runner robot which is a large scale bipedal robot running on water surface inspired by basilisk lizards. Finally, miniature robots are very promising for health-care applications inside or outside the human body. Biomedical swimming and wireless endoscopic crawling micro-robots are designed and built for diagnosis and treatment of diseases in the urinary and digestive system, respectively. All of these miniature robots with many open research challenges could revolutionize health-care, environmental monitoring, desktop manufacturing systems, and space exploration applications in the future.

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