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These are tiny robots. And they are awesome.

No one said building tiny robots was easy. But the payoff? Huge.

Inspired by the strength, speed, and agility of insects, Sarah Bergbreiter, a Clark School faculty member from 2008–2018, engineers robotic systems at sub-millimeter size scales. Microrobots could be used to help avoid catastrophic collapses by inspecting bridges and other large infrastructure, or deployed in search scenarios after a natural disaster such as an earthquake. In effect, robots the size of an ant could go where humans can’t or shouldn’t—accessing tight spaces, operating under various weather and safety conditions, and autonomously executing tasks for long periods of time—to help save lives.

Engineering robotic systems on such a small scale, however, comes with an enormous set of challenges. How do you create mechanisms such as legs that allow a sub-millimeter-scale robot to traverse rough terrain at high speeds? How do you build lightweight motors to support that locomotion? And how do you develop sensing systems that enable a tiny robot to estimate its condition and environment?

Watch the video above to learn more.

Are you are a member of the media interested in connecting with a robotics engineer at the University of Maryland? Please email: clark-communications@umd.edu

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August 21, 2018


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