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, QLD, Australia

May 25th 2018

Room P3 (Plaza level)

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)

Workshop Agenda:

9:00 am | Workshop begins : Opening remarks
30 Years of Small-Scale Robotics : Past, Present, and Future

9:20 am | Prof. Bradley Nelson - ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Keynote Presentation: Soft Microrobotics and its Application in Medicine

9:50 am | Jianfang Yu, ... , Prof. Li Zhang - The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Magnetic Colloidal Swarm: Pattern Generation and Motion Control

10:10 am | Prof. Aaron Ohta - University of Hawaii, USA
Micromanipulation With Microrobots

10:30 am | Morning tea and poster setup

11:00 am | Prof. Sylvain Martel - Polytechnique Montreal, Canada
Keynote Presentation: Medical Nanorobotics: Past, Present and Future

11:30 am | Sungwoong Jeon, Ali Kafash Hoshiar, ... ,Prof. Hongsoo Choi - Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, Korea
Biomedical Applications of Magnetically Controlled Soft Microrobots

11:50 am | Mohammad Salehizadeh, ... , Prof. Eric Diller - University of Toronto, Canada
Controlling Multiple Microrobots using Homogeneous Magnetic Fields

12:10 pm | Johannes Sachs, Tian Qui, and Prof. Peer Fischer - Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany
Microswimmers and nanopropellers

12:30 pm | Lunch and poster session (abstracts/papers)

1:30 pm | Prof. Fumihito Arai - Nagoya University, Japan
Keynote Presentation : 20 Years of On-chip Robotics: Small-Scale Robotics Integrated with Microfluidics

2:00 pm | Prof. Lianqing Liu , ... - Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Modeling, Fabrication and Control of Micro Bio-Syncretic Robots based on Living Beating Cells

2:20 pm | Prof. David Cappelleri - Purdue University, USA
Towards Functional Mobile Microrobotic Systems

2:40 pm | Huaping Wang and Prof. Toshido Fukuda - Beijing Institute of Technology, China
Microrobotic Assembly of Cellular Micromodules into 3D Microtissues Mimicking in Vivo Structures

3:00 pm | Afternoon tea and poster session (abstracts/papers)

3:30 pm | Panel Discussion
30 Years of Small-Scale Robotics : Past, Present, and Future

4:00 pm | Prof. Igor Paprotny , Prof. Milos Zefran, and Dr. Ratul Majumdar - University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Controlling Large Microrobot Swarms using On-Board Physics-based State Storage : New Paradigm for Multi-Microrobot Control

4:20 pm | Pan Liao and Prof. Dong Sun - City University of Hong Kong, China
Biomimetic Mobile Robots at Small Scale

4:40 pm | Samuel D. Gollob and Prof. Sarah Bergbreiter - University of Maryland, USA
Mechanics of Locomotion and Manufacturing Parameters for Dynamic Legged Microrobots

5:20 pm | Prof. Lining Sun - Soochow University, China
Micro-Nano Robotics Development and Applications in China

5:20 pm | Concluding remarks : Time Capsule

5:30 pm | Workshop adjourns

Revised extended contributions will be published as post-proceedings in State of the Art (SotA) Survey in Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) / Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (LNAI) (www.springer.com/lncs)

Last updated: 5/24/2018