'Flying,' tiny gripper robots hover around on magnetic fields

Man, flying cars and now flying robots? Maybe we really are living in the future.

A team led by Mir Behrad Khamesee at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada is using an array of electromagnets to levitate micro-robots weighing under a gram in a controlled manner. "We develop a focal point of a magnetic field in space, which the microrobot hangs on," Khamesee told ZDNet. "By changing the location of the focal point (through current control in several coils), the micro-robot is consequently moved." The micro-bots are equipped with tiny gripper arms, and are monitored by laser sensors and a camera so that the magnetic field will automatically adjust to the weight of whatever they pick up, and keep them hovering.

Tiny, hovering gripper-bots have limitless medical applications, but could also help out with things like production and space exploration.

Via ZDNet