A 1/4-cu inch robot developed at Sandia National Labs may
be the world's smallest. So far, the little robot has only maneuvered its way
through a field of dimes and nickels, but Sandia researcher Ed Heller, who
developed the device's microelectronics, envisions driving it through pipes and
other small passages, or locating mines in mine fields. "Right now, the robot
can only move and sense temperature," says Heller. The robot travels at 20
inches/min. It uses three watch batteries and two tiny Smoovy motors from RMB
(Ringwood, NJ) that drive track wheels like those found on bulldozers. The
small, but mighty robot also has an 8K ROM processor and temperature sensor. "By
eliminating the packaging and using electronic components in die form, we
reduced the size of the robot," he says. Heller and other project researchers
may add a camera, microphone, and communication device in the future. Sandia's
Doug Adkins developed the robot's small mechanical design using
stereolithography, a process that involves laying down thin layers of material
that are cured using a laser. For more information, contact Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org . Adkins' email address is email@example.com. For more information about RMB's Smoovy motors, go to www.smoovy.com .
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
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