Researchers at Cornell University have developed a tiny, proof of concept robot that moves its four limbs by rapidly igniting a combination of methane and oxygen inside flexible joints
From New Scientists Technology –
A robot powered by tiny explosions can jump 20 times its own length and carry 22 times its own weight. Its makers say it could be produced cheaply in bulk and is ideal for search-and-rescue missions or even exploring other planets.
Most robots are powered by electric motors and batteries, which are reliable, tried-and-tested technologies, but can’t be miniaturised past a certain point. Robert Shepherd at Cornell University in New York and his colleagues have turned instead methane, a chemical fuel that can store energy at a much higher density than lithium-ion batteries and be scaled down to tiny insect-sized devices.
The team created an actuator with a 3D-printed combustion chamber that weighs just 325 milligrams. A pair of electrodes create a spark and ignite a mix of methane and oxygen, and the resulting explosion pushes against a flexible membrane with 9.5 newtons of force.
See the robot jump!