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HomeTechnologyMagnetic gearbox could power robots to crawl or jump inside your body

Magnetic gearbox could power robots to crawl or jump inside your body


Robots with out batteries, motors or electronics can lack energy, however a tiny gearbox pushed by an exterior magnetic discipline enabled one tender robotic to leap virtually 40 occasions its peak



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31 August 2022

A tiny gearbox driven by an external magnetic field enabled one soft robot to jump almost 40 times its height

A tiny gearbox powered by an exterior magnetic discipline enabled one tender robotic to leap virtually 40 occasions its peak

Chong Hong

A gearbox pushed by an exterior magnetic discipline can energy tiny however highly effective robots that crawl like a caterpillar or leap virtually 40 occasions their very own peak, regardless of having no batteries or motors on board. The expertise might result in medical robots that may journey by way of the human physique, taking samples or delivering medication.

Smooth robots – which don’t have any batteries, motors or electronics and are powered and managed remotely by mild or magnets – are a preferred discipline of analysis as a result of their simplicity allows them to be extremely miniaturised. However they might be missing in energy when the duty requires puncturing pores and skin or opening collapsed cavities.

Now, Chong Hong on the Max Planck Institute for Clever Techniques in Germany and his colleagues have created a gearbox that measures round 3 millimetres throughout and is provided with cogs as small as 270 micrometres in diameter.


The gears are solid from epoxy resin impregnated with aluminium. A magnet fitted to the enter shaft is pushed by an exterior, spinning magnetic discipline that amplifies the torque – or rotational power – by as much as 342 occasions.

Learn extra: Robotic fabricated from sticky tape and metallic powder might crawl in your organs

These gearboxes – which comprise seven gears to amplify the enter – will be fitted into varied modular robots to perform a spread of duties: one crawls like a caterpillar at 0.68 millimetres per second, one other shops power in elastic legs and jumps 119 millimetres, whereas others clamp on to stable objects which they puncture with a needle.

When put to the check, a winch-like robotic geared up with a gearbox was in a position to carry 103 grams.

Hong says the expertise can permit the creation of extra highly effective and sophisticated tender robots, though they are going to want stable gearbox equipment at their core.

“Sooner or later we might use the robotic in confined areas, just like the human physique, or in granular media [such as sand] like [how] an earthworm [moves],” he says.

“In comparison with different magnetic robots, ours simply requires a really small magnetic discipline, so we will put our management system far-off from the robotic, as a result of the gearbox amplifies the magnetic power to operate. So possibly this robotic can receive a bigger working distance [than existing soft robots].”

Journal reference: Science Robotics, DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abo4401

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