Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have created a robot courier that is light controlled.

The plastic package delivery robot, which is roughly 2 cm in size, “walks” when blue light is shone on it, enabling it to transport packages. The robot does not require batteries or computer chips to operate. Instead it is composed of light-sensitive polymers that contract on one side when exposed to light and bend when the light source is removed.

The robot’s direction is dictated by the direction from which the light source is shone, thereby enabling the robot to turn.

Researchers envision that the light-controlled mini plastic robots will have use cases for medication delivery within the body as well as conducting repairs on chip machines. In the meantime, researchers will attempt to reduce the size of the robot to under 1 mm.

The concept of powering robots using light is quickly gaining momentum in the robotics industry. Researchers from the University of Warsaw in Poland have developed a robot that harvests energy from laser beams to crawl. Meanwhile a team from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a soft robot that is powered by light.

The robot is detailed in the report titled A Soft Transporter Robot Fueled by Light, which appears in the journal Advanced Science.

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