The University of Hawaiʻi microrobot assembled tiny glass beads into a mini UH.
The University of Hawaiʻi microrobot assembled tiny glass beads into a mini UH.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s microrobotics team placed third in the mobility event of the 2014 Mobile Microrobotics Challenge, held in Hong Kong from May 31 to June 2, as part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ International Conference on Robotics and Automation. UH Mānoa competed against teams from the U.S., France, Switzerland, Canada and Korea.

UH Mānoa’s microrobot consists of a small air bubble inside of a microchamber. Light from a laser is used to heat the surface of the microchamber, which generates a force that moves the microrobot around.

The microrobot is smaller than half a millimeter in diameter and can be used to move around objects that are also smaller than a millimeter in size. This is useful for building structures made up of living cells, which can help to grow tissues and organs outside of the human body.

All of the microrobots in the Mobile Microrobotics Challenge were smaller than half a millimeter and operated in miniature arenas under a microscope. The challenge consisted of two events: a mobility event, in which the robots were timed as they moved around various paths in a course, and a micro-assembly challenge, where the robots assembled tiny triangles in a designated area.

“These challenging events really test the intellectual capacity and technological skills of the teams, so this award is a real testament to the Mānoa microrobotics team’s accomplishment,” said Aaron Ohta, an electrical engineering associate professor in the College of Engineering. “The UH microrobotics team has historically done well, finishing second in the 2012 and 2011 Mobile Microrobotics Challenges.”

The UH Mānoa Microrobotics team members are Wenqi Hu, Qihui Fan, Sammy Khamis and Edward Nerard.

A UH Mānoa news release