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For the past few years there has been a great deal of discussion about the feasibility and desirability of developing micro-miniature robots that could be deployed en masse to do useful tasks. In this talk---which will be based on my keynote lecture at the Micromachine and Human Science conference given in Nagoya last October---I will attempt to examine some of the important issues involved in such a would-be endeavor, including matters of scale and controllability. These will be illustrated by some examples from the research community, including some biological agents for medical purposes and macroscopic devices which are capable of performing quite microscopic manipulation tasks. Work from our own Microdynamic Systems Laboratory will be mentioned, including miniature modular robots for precision (micron level) assembly and high-fidelity haptic interface devices, based on Lorentz magnetic levitation, which may someday help bridge the gap between the macro and micro world.
This appears on the World Wide Web at http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~mcm/seminar.html