Tiny robots would be useful in medical applications — for targeted drug delivery or simple surgeries sans incisions, according to Temel. Miniature robots could also save lives in dangerous places like minefields, or during search and rescue: “If you have small bug-robots,” she said, it’s possible to do “more efficient — and safer — rescue operations” following an avalanche or earthquake where it’s dangerous for humans or even larger robots to tread.
Small robots that can work together, as ants or bees do, would also be ideal for exploring other planets like Mars, again keeping humans away from risky, unexplored situations:
“I hope my research will be used to make modular robots that can self-assemble, to be used by astronauts in unknown environments to lend a helping hand,” said Jamie Paik, founder, and director of the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.