Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created miniature robots — roughly the size of a grain of rice — that can swim, grip and navigate barriers via applied magnetic fields.

The mini robots are composed of biocompatible polymers featuring embedded magnetic microparticles. To enable the robots to swim, grip and overcome barriers, a remote operator controls the robot by varying the strength and direction of magnetic fields produced by an electromagnetic coil system.

Source: NTU SingaporeSource: NTU Singapore

According to the NTU Singapore team, the robots could be used for biomedical and manufacturing applications among others. For instance, the swimming robots could be used for targeted drug delivery or surgical procedures while the gripping robots could be used to assemble 3D structures such as lab on chip devices.

To see the robots in action, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of NTU Singapore. The research is also detailed in the journal Advanced Materials.

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