A series of tiny ant-like robots called Tugs minibots managed to pull thousands of pounds in vehicular weight.
The little Tug minibots developed at Stanford University are making history. They literally imitate ants in Nature and are able to lift huge amounts of weight like the industrious insects are capable of carrying.
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Everybody knows about the ability of ants to support and haul massive objects in tandem. They join together to lift stuff that is much heavier than them.
While other robots that pulled in jerks and shakes were unable to do the job, the Tug minibots were successful since they employed tiny winches and slowly and steadily managed to drag the humongous object across a limited distance.
It is simple. Even in a human tug of war contest, the same principle is employed with remarkable success. The Tug minibots not only used the team spirit found in ants, they also utilized the adhesive nature of the toes of the geckoes found on walls and ceilings.
Indeed, man tends to imitate Nature very closely and he is pretty good at it. Half a dozen Tug minibots were used. They could haul a weight amounting to 52 pounds each. Believe it or not, but they managed to drag a large car with a driver inside who didn’t lift a finger.
This almost reminds one of Archimedes’ phrase of “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the world”. He was of course referring to the lever and the miracles it was capable of. Yet today we have moved so far from those rudimentary days of applying pressure on a fulcrum. The tiny bots weighed merely 3.5 ounces which is peanuts in terms of total weight. However, they managed to shift a car that weighed 3900 pounds.
These minibits are capable of moving objects that weigh thousands of times their own weight. It is an explosive mixture of ants and geckoes in technological form.
Such stuff is found in movies although in exaggerated form. Small robots are seen tossing and destroying large cars. While such has not been demonstrated in real life, there can be no doubt that one fine day in the future, we will have accomplished even this impossibility.
All it takes is scientific principles applied with extreme precision. Brains beat brawn and mind over matter is what it is all about. Finally, quality can trump quantity too.
Mr. Christensen and Srinivasan Suresh along with the researcher Katie Hahm and the mechanical engineering professor Mark Cutkosky published their study online by title “Let’s All Pull Together: Principles for Sharing Large Loads in Microrobot Teams” with an accompanying video that you can watch below.
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