AA4CC/BioCentEx team has qualified and is about to set out for the NIST Mobile Microrobotics Challenge in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, May 14-18, 2012

AA4CC FEE CTU in Prague - one the three Biocentex teams - has qualified and is now packing the baggage for the NIST Mobile Microrobotics Challenge 2012, which takes place during 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, May 14-18, 2012. Namely, the undergraduate student Jakub Drs and Dr. Zdeněk Hurák are attending the event. Keeping their fingers crossed back in Prague are Jiří Zemánek a three graduate students: Adam Hamr, Josef Muller and Václav Endrych. Participation in this prestigious international competition was also an opportunity to take full advantage of the interdisciplinary collaboration withing Biocentex as the microelectrode electrode array was fabricated by Jakub Grym from Department of Bioanalytical Instrumentation at IACH ASCR chaired by František Foret - another Biocentex team.

All robots entered in the competition must be no bigger than 600 micrometers in their largest dimension and must be able to operate without the direct connection of wires (i.e., untethered operation.) The competition will consist of two events structured to test each microrobot’s speed, agility, and ability to manipulate small objects. Mobility Challenge: Microrobots are required to navigate a planar maze in the shape of a figure eight. Microassembly Challenge: Microrobots must assemble multiple microscale components inside a narrow channel. This task simulates anticipated applications of microassembly, including manipulation within a human blood vessel and the assembly of components in nanomanufacturing. Multiple cooperating microrobots will be allowed.

AA4CC team has been conducting research in the area of planar micromanipulation using dielectrophoresis. It consists in shaping the (gradient of) electric field by applying voltages to properly designed microelectrodes. As the attached video shows, our recent desing of a microelectrode array and some fancy control strategies constitute a feasible response to Mobility Challenge task, where particle to be manipulated is a few tens of micron sized polystyren microbead.

Video: AA4CC/Biocentex response to the 2012 NIST Microrobotics Challenge