Magnetic robots are machines capable of performing tasks using magnetic forces. Here, AZoRobotics explores the applications and use cases of magnetic robots.
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What Are Magnetic Robots?
Magnetic robots are robotic systems that utilize magnetic forces to perform assigned tasks. These robots typically consist of a robot body and one or more magnetic arms or grippers that can be designed with different configurations, depending on the intended application.
How Are Magnetic Robots Controlled?
Magnetic robots are controlled by a combination of hardware and software systems. The magnetic field applied to the robot is controlled through electro or permanent magnets, which can be manipulated to generate desired forces. Similarly, the movement and positioning of the magnetic robots are controlled by motors and actuators, which respond to commands from a computer or an operator.
In addition, magnetic robots can incorporate sensors, including position sensors, force sensors, and vision systems, to provide feedback and enhance their control. The control system of a magnetic robot is typically programmed using specialized software, allowing precise manipulation and operation.
Why Are Magnetic Robots Used?
Magnetic robots offer several advantages that make them suitable for various applications. For instance, they can operate in challenging environments, such as confined spaces or hazardous areas, where direct human intervention is difficult or dangerous. Magnetic robots can access areas that are inaccessible to humans, enabling inspection, maintenance, and repairs in industrial facilities, pipelines, and even the human body.
Moreover, magnetic robots can handle delicate or fragile objects with precision. Traditional robots may damage sensitive materials or components. Still, magnetic robots can exert controlled forces without causing harm, making them ideal for applications in the electronics industry, where handling small and fragile components is essential.
Applications of Magnetic Robots
Magnetic robots have various applications across different fields, including inspection and maintenance, environmental monitoring, and especially in the medical field for minimally invasive surgery, targeted drug delivery, biopsy and tissue sampling, and microsurgery.
Biomedical Application of Nano-Magnetic Robots
A 2020 study discusses the application of magnetic robots in biomedical settings. These robots utilize magnetic torque, rotating and oscillating magnetic fields, and other methods for propulsion and navigation. These magnetic robots are usually inspired by natural systems like bacterial flagella and fish motion.
Fabricating these magnetic robots involves nanolithography techniques and the incorporation of magnetic components. Magnetic actuation mechanisms include time-varying magnetic fields and magnetic field gradients. The robots have potential applications in cargo transport, enhanced therapy, surgery, and other biomedical tasks. However, challenges remain, such as localization, communication, biocompatibility, and control in deep tissues. Further research and standardization efforts are needed to advance these technologies toward clinical use.
Miniature Magnetic Robots for Medical and Bioengineering Applications
Another 2020 study explores the application of magnetic robots in medical and bioengineering. According to the study, miniature robots, ranging in size from micrometers to millimeters, have the potential to access narrow regions of the human body for various tasks, such as targeted delivery, precise surgery, and medical examination. Magnetic actuation is a preferred strategy for controlling these robots due to its transparency to biological tissues and controllability.
The study discusses the principles of magnetic actuation and the generation of magnetic fields using permanent magnets and electromagnets. It categorizes magnetic actuation systems into configurations based on their magnetic sources. The study also highlights the biomedical applications of magnetic end effectors, including imaging, biopsy, sensing, targeted delivery, cell manipulation, and tissue engineering. The future focus is on scaling, integration with imaging devices, safety considerations, and improving the performance of magnetic fields. Overall, magnetic actuation systems offer promising possibilities for advancing medical innovations.
Magnetic Soft Continuum Robots (MSCRs)
A recent study published in 2021 introduces magnetic soft continuum robots (MSCRs) as a solution to overcome limitations in cardiovascular minimally invasive surgery. MSCRs, composed of magnetic field-controllable elastomeric fibers, demonstrate enhanced steerability under remotely applied magnetic fields.
The study presents a systematic design, fabrication, and experimental validation process using a genetic algorithm to optimize the MSCRs' workspace. The optimized MSCR design achieves an unprecedented workspace, offering improved steerability for minimally invasive treatments. This approach provides an efficient tool for designing and optimizing future magnetic soft robots and actuators.
Future Prospects of Magnetic Robots
Magnetic robots are expected to play a significant role in various fields with technological advancements. For instance, magnetic robots could be used in the construction industry to assemble prefabricated structures, reducing labor costs and enhancing construction efficiency. Moreover, magnetic robots hold promise in exploring hazardous environments, such as deep-sea exploration or outer space missions. Their ability to operate in extreme conditions and their precise control and manipulation capabilities make magnetic robots ideal for tasks that are too dangerous or challenging for humans.
References and Further Reading
Bacchetti, A., Lloyd, P., Taccola, S., Fakhoury, E., Cochran, S., Harris, R. A., ... & Chandler, J. H. (2022). Optimization and fabrication of programmable domains for soft magnetic robots: A review. Frontiers in Robotics and AI. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frobt.2022.1040984/full
Kim, Y., & Zhao, X. (2022). Magnetic soft materials and robots. Chemical reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9211764/
Koleoso, M., Feng, X., Xue, Y., Li, Q., Munshi, T., & Chen, X. (2020). Micro/nanoscale magnetic robots for biomedical applications. Materials Today Bio. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590006420300454
Wang, L., Zheng, D., Harker, P., Patel, A. B., Guo, C. F., & Zhao, X. (2021). Evolutionary design of magnetic soft continuum robots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2021922118
Yang, Z., & Zhang, L. (2020). Magnetic actuation systems for miniature robots: A review. Advanced Intelligent Systems. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aisy.202000082