Austrian researchers unveil a tiny robot that is both soft… and very fast

What’s tiny, soft, fast, and can even run, swim, or jump? A robot of course! This tiny droid was developed by a team of Austrian researchers who have just detailed their project in the journal NatureCommunications. The robot itself is made of a soft material containing metallic copper wires: the interaction between the electric current flowing in this wire and an external magnetic field produces several types of reactions for as many movements of the robot.

Researchers can thus control the robot remotely (via the external magnet) and make it perform a certain number of specific actions, such as jumping, moving forward, carrying (small) loads or even… swimming! The results are convincing: the soft robot can travel 70 times its own length… every second! The speed of the little critter is so impressive that the researchers had to obtain a high-speed camera to film the exploits of their protege.

The researchers also modified the shape of the robot’s legs to expand the range of its possibilities. Thus, armed with legs covered with mini-claws, the tiny soft droid manages to climb on several types of surfaces (rubber, wood, paper)! There is still a small problem, the imitated autonomy of the device. The researchers are already working on this point and hope that in the future this type of robot can be used in the medical sector (surgery,

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