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Watch six mini-robots that weigh less than 100 grams pull a 3,900 pound car

Stanford Mini Robots

Looking to the insect world for inspiration, researchers at Stanford’s Biomimetic Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory over the past few months have made a number of strides in developing miniaturized robots designed to mimic strength of ants. Ants of course may not look terribly strong, but they’re capable of lifting and carrying objects that weigh more than 100 times their body weight.

Recently, Stanford researchers unveiled a new video showcasing the capabilities of a mini-robot dubbed the μTug. Weighing in at less than 20 milligrams (~17 grams to be exact), each microbot is able to carry objects that weigh more than 2000 times its own weight. And when you put a team of these microbots together, they can accomplish the seemingly impossible, such as being able to pull a car, albeit slowly.

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“Using a special adhesive inspired by gecko toes,” Stanford researchers explain in the video below, “our micro robots can move objects more than 2000 times their own weight.”

So what you’ll see below is truly impressive; a team of 6 microbots, which together weigh less than 100 grams, successfully pulling a 3900 pound car on a polished concrete surface.

The abstract of the team’s research paper reads in part: “We confirm the model with experiments involving impulsive bristlebots, small walking and running hexapods, and 17 gram μTugs that employ adhesion instead of friction. With attention to load sharing, each μTug can operate at its individual limit so that a team of six pulls with forces exceeding 200 N.”

You can read a whole a lot more about Stanford’s impressively powerful μTug microbots on the research lab’s website.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.