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All-terrain microbot moves by tumbling over complex topography

A new type of all-terrain microbot that moves by tumbling could help usher in tiny machines for various applications. The "microscale magnetic tumbling robot" is about 400 by 800 microns, or millionths of a meter, smaller than the head of a pin. A continuously rotating magnetic field propels the microbot in an end-over-end or sideways tumbling motion, which helps the microbot traverse uneven surfaces such as bumps and trenches, a difficult feat for other forms of motion. The flat, roughly dumbbell-shaped microbot is made of a polymer and has two magnetic ends. A non-magnetic midsection might be used to carry cargo such as medications. Because the bot functions well in wet environments, it has potential biomedical applications. Drug-delivery microbots might be used in conjunction with ultrasound to guide them to their destination in the body.

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