Fine Grained Robotics

Unknown author (1991-02)

Working Paper

Fine grained robotics is the idea of solving problems utilizing multitudes of very simple machines in place of one large complex entity. Organized in the proper way, simple machines and simple behaviors can lead to emergent solutions. Just as ants and termites perform useful work and build communal structures, gnat robots can solve problems in new ways. This notion of collective intelligence, married with technologies for mass-producing small robots very cheaply will blaze new avenues in all aspects of everyday life. Building gnat robots involves not only inventing the components from which to put together systems but also developing the technologies to produce the components. This paper analyzes prototype microrobotic systems, specifically calculating torque and power requirements for three locomotion alternatives (flying, walking and swimming) for small robots. With target specifications for motors for these systems, we then review technology options and bottlenecks and sort through the tree of possibilities to pick and appropriate path along which we plan to proceed.