Researchers have developed a new robot which is no larger than a single molecule. It is programmed to independently run along a nano-scale track, a development which its creators claim could one day lead to similar robots being able to mend damaged cells and build nanotechnology products.
The team which created the robots was lead by Milan N. Stojanovic, a faculty member in the division of experimental therapeutics at Columbia University. It also included Erik Winfree, an associate professor of computer science at California Institute of Technology, Hao Yan professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State and various other DNA and Nano-technology Experts .
These robots are not the like the ones you see in movies, which take on a humanoid form and do mundane house hold chores. These are robots are invisible to the human eye and work at a molecular level. They could still however do useful tasks like household chores but this may be a few years off.
Molecular robotics experts have been working to create DNA strands with temporary “legs” which would allow them to walk around for short periods of time. Now Milan N. Stojanovic and his team have successfully shown that these spider like DNA strands can move autonomously. It must be noted however that the test only took place is a specially created two Dimension environment, so there is still a long way to go before we have DNA spiders running around in the real world.
Another key difficulty researches are facing is that the DNA walkers are incredibly slow, only being able to cover 100 nanometres in 30-60 minutes. A Nanometre is one billionth of an actual metre. Despite this however scientists are optimistic that one day these tiny robots may be able to advance medical science and control chronic diseases such as diabetes.