Salvador Panè i Vidal
Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich

Materials for Small-Scale Robots

We live in a world increasingly surrounded by robots such as robotic surgical systems, flying drones, autonomous planetary rovers, and robotic appliances. An emerging family of robotic systems are untethered micro- and nanorobots. These tiny vehicles can move in fluids by means of external energy sources such as light, ultrasound, magnetic fields or combinations of these. One of the ultimate goals of small-scale robotics is to develop machines that can deliver drugs, or realize other medical missions in confined spaces of the human body. Other applications include water remediation or “on-the-fly” chemistry. The recent rapid developments in small-scale robotics is undeniably related to advances in material science and manufacturing. However, while many applications have been demonstrated, aspects such as complex locomotion, multifunctionality, biocompatibility and biodegradability need to be further investigated for the successful translation of these devices to real applications. To this end, new material-based concepts and novel fabrication schemes are urgently required. This talk will explore various material-based concepts and innovative fabrication techniques to address translational challenges and further enhance the field of small-scale robotics.