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Fascination of down scaling — Alice the sugar cube robot

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Design of mobile micro-robot (MMR) is still a challenge due to the restricted availability of basic components. However, the number of highly integrated microelectronic and micromechanical components is growing fast. Nevertheless, its integration to a micro-system requires a good knowledge of all the interactions between sensor, actuator, computation and energy source. Often compromises between performance and power consumption have to be found.

This paper gives the basic considerations for building mobile micro-robots. The major scaling effects are presented and their impact on micro-system design is discussed. The mobile micro-robot Alice (Fig. 1), having the size of a sugar cube, is presented and discussed in the context of scaling laws. It has an autonomy of around 10 hours and is able to navigate based on simple behaviors like obstacle avoidance or wall following.


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