A team of scientists from the University of Southern California has created a small robot that works on methanol. A robot named RoBeetle weighs less than a tenth of a gram and needs no external source of power. Scientists say the energy density of modern batteries is so low that this fact has forced them to look for new sources of energy. They were able to make RoBeetle so light and compact precisely by refusing to use batteries.
Inside the robot, the following process takes place: Methanol vapor burns and forces small wires made of nickel-titanium alloy – the robot’s artificial muscles – to expand and contract after cooling. It is this process that ensures the movement of the robot. However, despite its extremely small size, the RoBeetle is a real driving force: it can carry loads of 2.6 times its own weight. In addition, it can carry an additional tank with 95 mg of alcohol, allowing it to move continuously for two hours.
The team of scientists is currently looking for methods to further extend the work of the robot, and they also want to teach the robot to fly. For this, they have already received a grant from DARPA. According to scientists, they want to create the first fully autonomous flying robot in the size of a beetle.