Watch: Stanford University Microbots Able to Tow Nearly 2-Ton Car


An astonishing video shows a squad of Stanford University’s tiny µTug robots pulling the full weight of a car and driver.

The Biometric Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford has combined the peculiar organizational abilities of ants hauling food with the unique gripping power of gecko toes to create a group of microbots that can pull the more than 3,900 lb. weight of a car and its driver, despite the robots weighing less than 3.5 grams combined.

Ants are pretty impressive, but while they can work together to move things 100 times their own weight, these robots are moving more than half a million times their combined weight. Think about that for just a moment.

The engineers at Stanford tried bots that hopped and walked before settling on a simpler two-wheeled design. (This is the point where I’m not going to make a “reinventing the wheel” joke, but I could have.) For now, just enjoy the video, and trying to calculate what size a robot would need to be to move an actual mountain. My own rough calculations say we need a roughly 40,000 ton squad of microbots before we can make the greatest YouTube video of all time.

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