Tiny Robots, due to their miniature size, have limited functional features. They are capable of jumping high and clearing large obstacles, but take some time between jumps to steady and redirect themselves. Designing becomes a cumbersome process if each of these functions are treated as separate subsystems.
A research team from Michigan State University led by Jianguo Zhao developed a tiny robot that is capable of jumping, steadying itself and aiming using a single motor. The robot is just 8 cms tall and weighs only 20 g. It is capable of jumping distances more than half a meter. All its operations are driven by a single pager motor. It uses gears for facilitating jumping and rotating. After landing, it uses a pair of small arms to push itself backwards. By folding its legs, a gear on the robot pulls it down and charges its torsional spring. After the springs are completely wound, the gear triggers a lever, which releases the spring and sets the robot flying. While landing, the robot is in a face down position, the pager motor then drives in the reverse direction and sets the robot to take a new direction. The gear is now engaged and the arms of the robot are folded outward and the robot is pushed off the ground and ready for the next jump. The research team is now looking at enhancing the jumping abilities of the robot and adding sensors that would help in automatic direction adjustment and in gathering information.