Earlier this week, the robotics company Boston Dynamics released a clip of their BigDog model—a four-legged, gas-powered, mobile machine—dexterously opening a door for its buddy. In light of the recent Black Mirror episode "Metalhead," which features a similar dogbot equipped with a deadly arsenal, it's understandably chilling to behold Boston Dynamics' creations and their impressive abilities.
But the collective freakout over the canine door openers overshadowed another robot video, dropped by Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering on Tuesday, which might actually outcreep the Boston Dynamics clip.
In contrast to the BigDogs, Purdue's "microscale magnetic tumbling robots," or microTUMs, are extremely small, measuring about 400 by 800 microns—about the size of a grain of sand. Shaped like dumbbells, the tiny machines are outfitted with magnetic end caps, enabling them to "tumble" continuously over a variety of terrains, powered by a shifting magnetic field.