Researchers at Cornell University have successfully developed a proof of concept robot that utilizes a combination of methane and oxygen to propel its four limbs. Although this tiny robot currently has limited capabilities, it is able to move and steer by blowing each limb outward with varying force. Despite its small size, this device demonstrates impressive jumping abilities, showcasing its potential for mobility.
One remarkable feature of this prototype is its ability to control combustions electronically within its flexible joints, allowing for up to 100 explosions per second. This generates sufficient force to perform useful work. Measuring just 29 millimeters in length and weighing only 1.6 grams, the prototype can jump up to 56 centimeters and move at a speed of almost 17 centimeters per second.
It is important to note that this proof of concept prototype is currently tethered, which means it does not account for carrying its own power or fuel supply. Nevertheless, the robot exhibits promising potential in terms of its maneuverability and efficiency.
One drawback reported in the research is its noise levels, which is not entirely unexpected considering the combustion process involved. However, this does not overshadow the innovative nature of this tiny robot.
To witness the robot’s capabilities, a video showcasing its movements is available below. For more detailed information about the research, refer to the provided research paper.
[Research paper] Cornell University research paper on the tiny, proof of concept robot