Could you pull a blue whale across a beach? How about scale a skyscraper carrying an elephant on your back? Of course you can’t. But it would be really awesome if you could, right?
Tiny robots built by members of the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab at Stanford University can actually do the miniature equivalent of both those tasks. Weighing in at just a few grams (about the weight of a bouncy ball), the lab’s MicroTugs pack a whole lot of power into a tiny package. Using super-strong adhesives–like the kinds geckos and ants use–the robots can get a tight grip on a surface. The bots then use their onboard motors to haul anything from full coffee mugs to iron weights.
The lab produced short videos demonstrating the MicroTugs’ capabilities, including an adorable explainer for kids. Check out some of the more research-oriented videos below for amazing strength demonstrations. First, meet the MicroTug that can pull a weight equivalent to nearly 2,000 times its weight across a horizontal surface.
Now, introducing the MicroTug that can hoist an object 100 times its weight vertically up a surface.
In the future, teams of these robots could be used to tackle even more impressive feats. David Christensen, one of the researchers on the project, told BBC News that the lab is “looking at ways to make multiples of them work together as a team, and scaling the technology up to larger bots with more industrial parts and a whole lot more force.”
[H/T The Kids Should See This]