30 Years of Small-Scale Robotics

from Nano-, to Millimeter-Sized Robotic Systems and Applications

International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2018) Workshop
Brisbane, Australia

21st or 25th of May 2018 (TBD)

Workshop Organizers

Prof. Igor Paprotny
University of Illinois at Chicago
Prof. Eric Diller
University of Toronto
Prof. Aaron Ohta
University of Hawaii
Prof. Li Zhang
Chinese University of Hong Kong


There is little doubt that robotic systems operating at nano-, micro- and millimeter scales will enable tremendous advances in areas such as medicine, information security, or microsystems assembly. Since the idea of the GNAT robots postulated 30 years ago at MIT, the field of small-scale robotics have presented significant advances surmounting inherent limitations imposed by scaling laws, often requiring creative solutions that challenge the very core definitions of robotics. Furthermore, the functionality of these small-scale robotic systems changes dramatically as their size is reduced from millimeters to micrometers and finally to nano-meters; the mode of operation of a centimeter sized artificial insect is diametrically different from nano-scale drug-delivery "nanorobot".

The goal of this workshop is to create a forum that will bring together leading researchers in the field of small-scale robotics, ranging from the nano- to millimeter scales, providing a venue which allow the small-scale community to present the latest findings regarding small-scale robotics. The aim is to stimulate discussion contrasting the differences specific to each size regime these robots operate at, providing a retrospective look back at the progress in the last 30 years, and postulate about the progress in the next 30 years of small-scale robotics.

General Information:

Small-scale robotics (at nano-, micro-, and millimeter scale) is a relatively new field that was made possible by advances in MEMS and NEMS technologies. Today, nano-, micro- and millirobotics encompass a rapidly growing community of researchers. This workshop will provide a unique international venue for the leading researchers in this field to share ideas, present their work, and discuss future directions for small-scale robotics across the different scales. As the technologies for small-scale robotic systems are being developed, potential applications for this technology begin to emerge. The objective of this workshop is to discuss the potentials and limitations of nano, micro, and millirobotics in the context of emerging applications. Scaling laws dictate that robots operating at nano-, micro- or mili-scales operate in drastically different physical regimes with fundamentally different challenges pertained to locomotion, power delivery, sensing and control. As their scale moves from milli- to micro to nano, robots must often stretch the definition of “robotics” in order to overcome some of these inherent difficulties. This workshop provides the unique opportunity to reflect on the progress in small-scale robotics in the last 30 years, and the postulate on the advances in small-scale technology in the next 30 years.

Topics that will be covered include, but are not limited to:
  • medical microrobotics (milli-, micro, and nano)
  • small-scale flying robots (milli, micro)
  • small-scale mobile robots (milli-, micro)
  • microassembly (milli-, micro, and nano)
  • self-assembly (milli-, micro, and nano)
  • biomimetic robots (milli-, micro, and nano)
  • small-scale robotic control (milli-, micro, and nano)

Preliminary Workshop Agenda (1 day):

  • 8:00 - 10:00 am: Morning Session I:
    • Opening remarks
    • Keynote 1 (30 min)
    • 4 Plenary talks (20 min each)
  • 10:00 am - 10:15 am: Break
  • 10:15 am - 12:15 pm: Morning Session II:
    • Keynote 2 (30 min)
    • 4 Plenary talks (20 min each)
  • 12:15 - 1:30 pm: Break for Lunch:
  • 1:30 - 3:30 pm: Afternoon Session I:
    • Keynote 3 (30 min)
    • 4 Plenary talks (20 min each)
  • 3:30 - 5:00 pm: Afternoon Session II:
    • Poster Session
  • 5:00 - 5:15 pm: Workshop Adjurns:

Several speakers have been confirmed, we will post a detailed schedule as we finalize the list of the contributors.

Last updated: 1/4/2018