Mon. Dec 11th, 2023
    Scientists Design Shape-Shifting Spider-Bot for Surgical and Rescue Missions

    Scientists have made a remarkable breakthrough in robotics with the creation of a tiny shape-shifting “spider-bot”. Inspired by arachnids, this robot has the potential to transform the field of surgery and disaster response. The robot, known as “mCLARI”, is the smaller and faster successor to its predecessor CLARI, designed by the same team. With dimensions of 0.8 inches in length and weighing less than 0.03 ounces, mCLARI can scurry at speeds of up to 2.4 inches per second.

    To navigate through various environments and fit into tight spaces, mCLARI utilizes its unique ability to manipulate its shape in multiple dimensions. This passive shape morphing enables the robot to adapt to different conditions and fit through narrow gaps. The team envisions a wide range of applications for this technology, including disaster response, high-value asset inspection, environmental monitoring, and precision medicine.

    Lead author Kaushik Jayaram, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Colorado, expressed his team’s vision for the future, stating, “In the long term, we envision such robots to be effective at navigating through human bodies and performing automated surgery such as clearing an artery clog or removing a tumor.” The potential for this spider-bot in precision medicine is truly groundbreaking.

    To create mCLARI, the researchers utilized an origami-like fabrication method, similar to their previous cockroach-inspired robot called HAMR-JR. By etching microelectromechanical components onto a 2D sheet and then popping them out to create a 3D structure, the team was able to develop the intricate design of the spider-bot.

    The next step for the scientists is to enhance mCLARI’s power and sensing capabilities, further advancing its agility and maneuverability. With continued research and development, this shape-shifting spider-bot could become a vital tool in surgical procedures and search-and-rescue missions.


    Q: What is mCLARI?

    A: mCLARI is a tiny shape-shifting robot inspired by spiders, designed to navigate its environment and perform various tasks.

    Q: What are the potential applications of mCLARI?

    A: mCLARI has potential applications in disaster response, high-value asset inspection, environmental monitoring, and precision medicine.

    Q: How is mCLARI able to navigate through different environments?

    A: mCLARI can passively change its shape in multiple dimensions, allowing it to maneuver through tight spaces and adapt to various conditions.

    Q: How was mCLARI created?

    A: The robot was fabricated using an origami-like method, where microelectromechanical components were etched onto a 2D sheet and then folded into a 3D structure.

    Q: What is the future goal for mCLARI?

    A: The researchers aim to enhance mCLARI’s power and sensing abilities, with the long-term vision of using these robots for surgical procedures and navigation within the human body.