Watch This Team of Six Tiny Robots Move a Car

March 14, 2016, 2:21 PM UTC
Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab, Stanford University

Don’t let their small size fool you.

This team of six robots smaller than your hand can tow a car. If you’ve got a little time to wait around, that is.

The new “micro-tugs” weigh about as much as a bar of soap (100 grams). Developed by researchers at Stanford University’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab, the tiny bots use the power of coordination, much like ants do. Harnessing that coordination, the robots can pull over 2,000 times their own body weight by better synchronizing their movements.

If a team of six humans was this strong, they would be able to pull the weight of one Eiffel Tower plus three Statues of Liberty, researcher David Christiansen, a grad student at Stanford, told The New York Times.

The other secret to the strength of these little robots is a special kind of glue on their feet, engineered to work like sticky gecko toes. Other nature-inspired microbots are also being developed to help with rescue missions and oil spills.

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But the small tugs come with one big catch: They’re not exactly an expedient team. Watch the tugs pull this 3,900-pound car…very, very slowly:

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