Adding microbots and nanobots to your tech arsenal
The field of microbotics
Not to be confused with the term microbiotics, microbotics, and most recently nanorobotics, are terms used to describe the field of developing and deploying miniature robots – a part of the broader fields of nanotechnology and nanoscience. This kind of miniature-scale robotization is characterized by portable robotics of sizes smaller than 1 mm.
How did robots get so small, you may ask? Well, microbots aren’t an entirely new concept today. Technically, they first emerged when microcontrollers were invented, at the end of the last century, to be used in the field of intelligence. You can imagine that tiny, unnoticeable robots capable of autonomous work would come in handy for the purposes of, say, espionage or the interception of information transmissions.
Inside microbots and nanobots
So how do the smallest robots known to mankind work? The technology inside these tiny workers is, naturally, miniscule. The tiniest prototype models so far use a so-called Scratch Drive Actuator (SDA), along with mini-sensors, to perform complex tasks that are in no way, small in nature.
The way microbots work isn’t too complex, as their operation is based on magnets that circulate in a magnetic field (typically generated by a circuit board). The SDA is a tiny electro-mechanical device that converts electrical current into motion. This way, the tasks performed by the tiny magnets can be easily directed with the help of microbot apps and software.
Taking science to a whole new level
Even though microbotics aren’t as advanced as we’d like them to be today, they have many promising applications in the fields of again, intelligence, but also healthcare, biomedical, electronics, and the development of new materials.
According to tech futurist Kay Kurzweil, if we make it to the years 2040 – 2050, we’d most likely be immortal, all thanks to microbotics. The current and expected research advances in nanotechnology imply that we will rely on mini-machines to support, maintain, and rebuild our bodies and minds when they begin to fail us. Aging will be a significantly slower, and possibly a completely reversible process. Not only will nanobots improve our physical health, but they will help keep our cognitive abilities as sharp as a blade.
Practical applications of micro- and nanobots
In healthcare, microbot and nanobot technology will be used to repair tissue and organs and even clean blood from bacteria and toxins. This will certainly be a useful tool in the treatment and management of life-threatening, chronic diseases, including cardiovascular illness, diabetes, obesity, cancer, liver disease, respiratory issues, kidney disease, and even Alzheimer’s. The miniscule robots will be capable of non-invasively traversing through the entire human body – diagnosing, repairing, cleaning, and delivering targeted treatments as they travel.
In electronics, the mini-robots’ miniscule size can be very useful to the diagnostics and repair of sophisticated microcomputers and similar devices (i.e. cellphones, laptops, IoT, and more), whereas the human hand is simply too large and clumsy.
Future prospects of microbots and nanobots
Up until recently, microbots had to be made by hand by specialists, under a microscope – a process that clearly required a high degree of precision, time, and last but not least – a steady hand. However, going forward, it is likely that microbots and nanobots could be 3D-printed in a matter of half an hour, thanks to recent discoveries in the field.
Do you need to worry about microbotics and nanorobotics just yet?
Whether microbots will help make us immortal is yet to be seen, however, building the technology and software to manage them is a process that companies can start working on today, in order to become trailblazers in the field. If your business is in the intelligence, electronics, or biomedical field, getting on top of microbotic technology in its infancy could be a powerful differentiator going forward.