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Bend it like NIST- Nano Soccer


IMAGINE A ROBOTIC DAVID BECKHAM … SIX TIMES SMALLER THAN AN AMOEBA … PLAYING WITH A SOCCER BALL NO WIDER THAN AN HUMAN HAIR … WITH ALL OF THE ACTION HAPPENING ON A FIELD THE SIZE OF A SINGLE GRAIN OF RICE. IT MAY SOUND LIKE THE STUFF OF SCIENCE FICTION BUT AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY … OR NIST … NANOSOCCER IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. NIST, THE FEDERAL AGENCY THAT ADVANCES U.S. INNOVATION AND INDUSTRIAL COMPETITIVENNESS, IS PARTNERING WITH INDUSTRY … UNIVERSITIES … AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS … TO MOVE US TOWARD A FUTURE WHERE ROBOTS SMALLER THAN THE EYE CAN SEE ARE PUT TO WORK IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. “Soccer provides a fun way to road test the basic abilities that future nanorobots will need to perform useful work.” AT THE WORLD’S FIRST NANOSOCCER GAMES LAST YEAR IN ATLANTA … FIVE TEAMS FROM THREE NATIONS SQUARED OFF IN EVENTS THAT ALL TOOK PLACE UNDER A MICROSCOPE THE TWO-MILLIMETER DASH … THE OBSTACLE COURSE … AND THE BALL-HANDLING DRILL. THE ROBOTS ARE OPERATED BY REMOTE CONTROL … AND USE CHANGES IN ELECTRIC OR MAGNETIC FIELDS TO MOVE ABOUT. ONE NANOBOT AT THE 2008 COMPETITION IN PITTSBURGH EVEN WORKS UNDERWATER TO REDUCE FRICTION. “The microrobotic soccer program is working really well. In the two years since the idea for the competition was adopted, we’ve seen a remarkable advancement in the development of microrobotic systems and their abilities.” THE PAYOFF MAY ONE DAY BE TINY MICROCHIP FACTORIES WHERE NANOBOTS BUILD PRODUCTS USING MOLECULES OR EVEN INDIVIDUAL ATOMS. OR MICROSCOPIC SURGEONS TRAVELING THROUGH OUR ARTERIES TO REMOVE FATS AND CLOTS. WITH THE LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE WORLD’S SMALLEST SOCCER PLAYERS … NIST AND ITS PARTNERS ARE QUICKLY MOVING MICROROBOTICS FROM SCIENCE FICTION TO REALITY.

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