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Abstract: Miniature mobile robots have the unique capability of accessing to small spaces and scales directly. Due to their small size and small-scale physics and dynamics, they could be agile and portable, and could be inexpensive and in large numbers if they are mass-produced. Miniature robots would have potential applications in health-care, bioengineering, mobile sensor networks, desktop micro-manufacturing, and inspection. In this talk, dynamics and control of different size scale miniature robots with various locomotion capabilities are presented. First, as milli/centimeter scale mobile robots, mechanics, design, and control of climbing, flying, and water-walking robots inspired by insects and lizards are presented. Pill-size untethered soft capsule robots are proposed to enable minimally invasive medical diagnosis and therapeutic operations inside stomach. Next, going down to sub-millimeter size mobile robots, the grand challenge is the limitations on scaling down on-board actuators and power sources. Two alternative approaches are proposed to solve this challenge. First, biological cells, e.g. bacteria, attached to the surface of a micro-robot are used as on-board micro-actuators using the chemical energy. Current status of this approach is reported briefly while focusing on a second approach: external actuation of untethered magnetic micro-robots using remote magnetic fields in enclosed spaces. New magnetic micro-robot locomotion principles based on rotational stick-slip, spinning and rolling dynamics are proposed. Vision-based control schemes are used to control teams of micro-robots using novel addressing methods where each robot in the team could be individually actuated while the global magnetic fields exerted on each robot is the same. Such untethered micro-robot teams are demonstrated to control microfluidic flow locally and manipulate micro-gels with embedded cells with or without contact inside microfluidic channels.
Bio: Metin Sitti received the PhD degree in electrical engineering from University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1999. He was a research scientist at UC Berkeley during 1999-2002. He is currently a professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of NanoRobotics Lab and Center for Bio-Robotics. His research interests include mobile micro-robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-materials, bio-inspired robot locomotion, and micro/nano-manipulation. He received the SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award in 2011 and NSF CAREER Award in 2005. He received best paper and best video awards in major robotics conferences. He was elected as the Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society during 2006-2008 and the Vice President of the Technical Activities in the IEEE Nanotechnology Council during 2008-2010. He is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics.