Hovering micro-robots

April 13, 2009

Some time ago, I was at a family’s house for dinner. We chatted about a range of topics, one of which was the types of research that my professors conducted. I thought back to my school terms and one example that really stood out in my mind was a magnetic levitating robot. My 2A Statistics professor explained that he was working on micro-robot that could be suspended in the air by manipulating electromagnetic fields. At that time, that was about all he explained to our class. So as we were discussing this topic at the dinner table, we weren’t too sure what real purpose it served. In order for this robot to levitate, there had to be magnets under or above the robot. We pictured a huge room with electromagnetic plates as the floor or ceiling. That doesn’t sound too safe, nor does it sound practical. But today, as I was surfing Engadget, I stumbled across an online article about my professor’s research! Finally, my questions were answered.microrobot_270x2081

Khamesee said that the micro-robot could be used in clean rooms or hazardous environments.

“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”

The research team, which includes Khamesee and graduate students Caglar Elbuken and Mustafa Yavuz, submitted the paper last fall to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for possible publication.

Another funny thing is that Behrad Khamesee and Mustafa Yavuz were my professors and Caglar Elbuken was my TA. Go Waterloo!

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