Tiniest bot, sort of. CNC controlled


Here’s an interesting concept, the bot pictured above has no internal control mechanisms.  His claims to have built the smallest bot are dubious, considering it requires a much larger control platform to function, so lets just set that aside and look at how it works. The bot itself is basically a hollow box with a hinged manipulator mounted on it. He has then built a modified CNC type structure with various magnets below a platform. The magnets can move the bot and control the manipulator (assuming the bot isn’t trying to pick up anything magnetic). He talks about this being a possible control scheme for smaller bots, though we think he would have to make some major advancements to his magnetic controls for accuracy’s sake. As for his claims of being the smallest, well, we’re sure we’ve seem similarly sized bots, even hexapods,  that were completely self contained.


  1. chris says:

    This thing is so cute! it would be a great hit at cocktail partys.
    Not a robot.

  2. andrew says:

    ever heard of nanobots? anyway this is emphatically *not* the smallest robot.

  3. M4CGYV3R says:

    I wouldn’t even consider this a robot with no internal controls like this. Also, the hexapods linked are like 6 times larger, so it’s not fair to say they’re the same size.

    I’m wondering if that means that little toy I had when I was a kid where the penguins magnetically marched up an ice hill and then slid(rolled) back down was advanced miniature robotics? If that’s the case this guy could get about 20 of these for like $19.99

  4. strider_mt2k says:

    So those guys vibrating around that little football field are all robots?

    When everything is a robot, then nothing is not a robot.

  5. Flug says:


  6. stunmonkey says:


  7. scott says:

    Look! A swarm of nanobots!!!!!1!!!one


  8. bill hates says:

    Get the fuck out of here with that shit… Really….

  9. Stunmonkey says:

    Good, real hacks happen everyday

    That this kind of shit gets posted here only shows that hackaday simply reposts whatever they can skim from instructables, no matter how crapulent.

    Try doing some actual research. Get an intern or something.

  10. Brett says:

    Interesting, yes.

    Robot, no.

  11. aaron says:



  12. Haku says:

    Wouldn’t the correct term for that thing be a ‘drone’?

  13. obsoehollerith says:


  14. RobotGuy says:

    I think the correct term for that thing would be a “hunk of metal.”

    It’s a neat design and it must have been troublesome to build, but I prefer robots with itegrated electronics ( http://www.instructables.com/id/Building-Small-Robots-Making-One-Cubic-Inch-Micro/ ).

    I think the world’s smaller robots would be those that revert wikipedia posts, etc.
    Some of them can fit inside micro SD cards, and they crawl across the internet.

  15. jim says:

    I think this is a pretty cool toy/demonstration. I get that it doesn’t have LEDs stuck to it, but not every hack needs an onboard uP.

    Some current research in nanofabricating robots is being done along these lines — albeit with much, much smaller “robots” and control through direct modulation of the magnetic field instead of a physically moving gantry.

  16. tjhooker says:

    it’s a object that is effected by magnetism, and is the size of a quarter, people here think it’s idiotic, but they promote it by putting it on their site…

  17. svalebror says:

    Relax! It’s cute and funny.

  18. Eric says:


    I think that’s a dime

    also, not a bot

  19. Stunmonkey says:

    Neither cute, nor funny; some overinflated SOB actually takes this seriously and thinks he has created something revolutionary and world record breaking. An overinflated blog actually posts this as a hack.

    Explain the humor? Please.

  20. RobotGuy says:


    This guy actually does make robots (ICs, motors, everything). Check his other Instructables contributions.

    I think he just did this one to cater to the technologically disinclined.

  21. calebkraft says:

    This was unique and decently done. It isn’t groundbreaking or amazing, but it’s definitely pretty cool. Have you ever seen a cnc rig used like this? I haven’t.

    Not every project can be insanely complex and advanced. We wouldn’t want them to be, even if they could.

  22. TJHooker says:

    Indeed it is, and I didn’t say it was a bot. I was just pointing out the irony.

  23. Addictronics says:

    PC > MAC oh wait.. wrong argument

  24. mikey77 says:

    As the maker of this robot, I beg to differ. If you know of a link to a smaller WHEELED ROBOT WITH A GRIPPER that can pick up things, please reveal it.

    Nothing is truly autonomous. Even you and I are dependent on outside machinery and energy sources for our mobility (i.e. the earth and sun).

    Moving as much as possible outside of the robot is literally out of the box thinking.
    Is an industrial robot that has cables that go to an external power supply and computer controller not a robot?

    By using a magnetic controller robots can, for example, operate untethered inside the human digestive track.

    These techniques of magnetic control may limit the range of a robot, but for microscopic cell manipulation or medical robots that move through a human body that is not a problem.
    That is probably why there are scores of robotic researchers at dozens of universities experimenting with magnetically controlled robots of all shapes and sizes.

    It is narrow minded thinking and tunnel vision that keeps art and science from advancing.

    If you limit your self to the ideas and techniques of the past, you will severely limit everyone’s future.

  25. Stunmonkey says:

    “It is narrow minded thinking and tunnel vision that keeps art and science from advancing. If you limit your self to the ideas and techniques of the past, you will severely limit everyones future.”

    First; This IS an idea and technique from the past.

    Secondly; If you are openly inclusive of every idea without regard to merit or substance, it is just as limiting as tunnel vision. If you don’t parse crap than thats all you will eventually have – look at steampunk.

    Third; Every third-rate hack and crank falls back on the old saw that everyone is simply too narrow-minded to see their greatness. Get over yourself and show us something worthy and we’ll pay attention.

  26. Bhima says:

    Reminds me of a smaller and less functional ant, from MIT. You can see them at the retired robots page.


  27. F7 says:

    Too much bashing on this page, the bot has good function.

    As soon as I saw the video I was thinking how useful something derived from this might be for placing smd parts on tinned pads. Sure, I could do the same thing with tweezers, but this is cuter and has potential to run autonomously.

  28. While not a new idea I think this has intrigued many people about magnetic control. To some monkeys it may be a POC to you but not everyone else.

  29. tjhooker says:

    @stunmonkey: superb retort.

  30. colecoman1982 says:


    “Get over yourself and show us something worthy and we’ll pay attention.”

    @stunmonkey: Funny, it seems like he’s already got plenty of your attention. If he didn’t then we wouldn’t have to listen to your whining.

    This isn’t a serious research site, this is a hobbyist site. You talk like we’re discussing serious research here. If you were a serious researcher, you’d be working at an engineering company or as a researcher at a college and wouldn’t be trying to make this site into the serious research site you seem to want it to be.

    You don’t even seem to understand the premise of “hacking”, it’s not the hyper-narrowly defined term you seem to want to force on everyone else. “Hacking” can be just as much about aesthetics as it is about functionality which flies in the face of your pissing in steam punk.

    Face it, this isn’t “The Stunmonkey Page”, this is Hackaday. Like every publication that isn’t custom written for a target audience of one, you’re guaranteed to find articles on subjects you aren’t interested in. Most normal, well adjusted, people just ignore the articles that don’t interest them rather than whine, incessantly.

    As for this article, I don’t know if I agree with it being called a bot, much less the smallest one in the world, but I do find it, at least, worthy of being posted here. Has similar work been done? Sure, but this also has the advantage of showing how it can be done by a hobbyist rather than the commercial/research efforts of the past. Personally, I’d refer to it more as a remote manipulator than as a bot but the term “bot” is pretty nebulous.

  31. Tane says:

    This is very similar to the slashdot story today on an intravenous magnetically controlled/powered robot. (News article http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/149402,robot-invented-to-crawl-through-veins.aspx and /. story http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/07/07/0012256/Robot-Invented-To-Crawl-Through-Veins?art_pos=3 ) At least this one has a moving gripper and some form of functionality – and it’s just one guy building it compared to an Israeli university.

  32. or_muddslinger says:

    Cool project.. Think I might make some of these for my cat to chase around the house…. lol…

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