Way to Magnetically Control Individual Members of a Robot Swarm

Way to Magnetically Control Individual Members of a Robot Swarm
Robotic jumping jacks are easy with magnetic manipulation. Credit: J. Rahmer and B. Gleich, Philips Research, 2017

Magnetic micromachines operate by the magnetic field. They do not need power supply cables, batteries or any controlling systems around the machine body. Likewise, it also can be controlled inside the human body as magnetic robot swarm.

There are two methods- 1. trying and building some sort of intricate and tiny robot submarine with self-contained propulsion and navigation. It is possible by making the tiny machine that responds to magnetic fields. And the 2nd is vastly less difficult. It has one major drawback, which is that it’s very hard to manage multiple robots.

But, while controlling machines inside the body, magnetic fields does not easily constrain to specific areas. Researchers hope that one day, this magnetic robot swarms could help to fight cancer inside the body.

For that purpose, a group of researchers in collaboration with Philips Innovative Technologies in Germany have developed a way to control individual members of robot swarm.

Way to Magnetically Control Individual Members of a Robot Swarm
The powerful magnetic field generator with copper shielding and high-frequency coils. Credit: J. Rahmer and B. Gleich, Philips Research, 2017

Scientists discovered that it is possible to manipulate robot swarm by using a magnet. Although, tiny robots do not have their own power source. So, they can be moved by the magnetic field.

This robot swarm could treat cancer patients by attacking on affected tissue of tumor. The difficulty of the problem is due, of course, to the influence of a magnetic field—it works the same way on all of the swarm members, which makes them all move and behave in the same ways. In this new effort, the researchers have shown that that does not necessarily have to be the case.

Study lead author Jürgen Rahmer said, “Our method may enable complex manipulations inside the human body.”

First, at all, scientists created a number of tiny identical magnetic screws. Next, they used a strong, uniform magnetic field to freeze groups of these magnetic screws in place. There are small and weak spots where these screws can freely move.

Scientists noted, “In principle, we could manipulate hundreds of microscopic robots at once.

Rahmer said, “One could think of screw-driven mechanisms that perform tasks inside the human body without the need for batteries or motors.”

The application for this robot swarm involves it could help doctors make sure that cancer-killing radioactive seeds within the pills target and damage only tumors rather than healthy tissues, cutting down on harmful side effects.

Another application involves in medical implants. According to scientists, magnetic fields could help alter the shape of implants to better adjust to the bodies of patients.