Moonkwang Jeong, Xiangzhou Tan, Felix Fischer, Tian Qiu

A Magnetic Millirobot Walks on Slippery Biological Surfaces for Targeted Cargo Delivery

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering

Small-scale robots hold great potential for targeted cargo delivery in minimally invasive medicine. However, current robots often face challenges in locomoting efficiently on slippery biological tissue surfaces, especially when loaded with heavy cargo. Here, we report a magnetic millirobot that can walk on rough and slippery biological tissues by anchoring itself on the soft tissue surface alternatingly with two feet and reciprocally rotating the body to move forward. We experimentally studied the locomotion, validated it with numerical simulations, and optimized the actuation parameters to fit various terrains and loading conditions. Furthermore, we developed a permanent magnet set-up to enable wireless actuation within a human-scale volume that allows precise control of the millirobot to follow complex trajectories, climb vertical walls, and carry cargo up to four times its own weight. Upon reaching the target location, it performs a deployment sequence to release the liquid drug into tissues. The robust gait of our millirobot on rough biological terrains, combined with its heavy load capacity, makes it a versatile and effective miniaturized vehicle for targeted cargo delivery.

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