MIT researchers have created a tiny reconfigurable robot made up of metal rings and strips that is “small, cheap, durable and strong.” It’s called a ‘milli-motein,’ as it has millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which are able to fold into complex shapes.
The chain robot features a strong electropermanent motor that can firmly hold its position even with the power switched off. A series of permanent magnets are paired with electromagnets and arranged in a circle, driving a steel ring around them.
The milli-motein is part of a family of devices being explored, ranging from protein-based “nanoassemblers” to a version with a human-sized chain. The researchers’ work could lead to robotic systems that are much cheaper to produce and can be dynamically reconfigured to do lots of different jobs instead of just a single repetitive function. Watch the video below to see the tiny robot and learn more: