Smiling Robot Moves Without Wires

What could be cuter than a little robot that scuttles around its playpen and smiles all day? For the 2018 Hackaday prize [bobricius] is sharing his 2D Actuator for Micro Magnetic Robot. The name is not so cute, but it boasts a bill of materials under ten USD, so it should be perfect for educational use, which is why it is being created.

The double-layer circuit board hides six poles. Three poles run vertically, and three of them run horizontally. Each pole is analogous to a winding in a stepper motor. As the poles turn on, the magnetic shuttle moves to the nearest active pole. When the perpendicular windings activate, it becomes possible to lock that shuttle in place. As the windings activate in sequence, it becomes possible to move left/right and forward/back. The second video demonstrates this perfectly.

[bobricius] found inspiration from a scarier source, but wants us to know this is his creation, not a patent infringement. We are not lawyers.

Here is a way to visualize just what is happening with those FETs. Watch as a power lead is brushed across the terminals in order. With this kind of basic kit, students could learn the value of motor acceleration, deceleration, or launching little magnets at their classmates.

10 thoughts on “Smiling Robot Moves Without Wires

      1. There are chess boards you could buy that moved the pieces around like this. Using an internal robot, an X-Y gantry and maybe an electromagnet, can’t remember every detail.

        Anyway… It’d need a higher resolution, but if you could create the magnetic field accurately in a small area, it might be possible. You’d need sub-square accuracy so you could move a piece to one side to let another pass through it’s square. Wouldn’t be easy, but then if this costs $10 it wouldn’t necessarily be expensive. And if you made a nice job of it, it would look wonderful, be like a real miracle to play chess against your electronic ghost pal!

        It’d probably have to be quite thin but you could maybe even put a wood veneer over the top. Stick a few shiny jewels in the pieces and sell to oil billionaires for any price you could think of. You could go super-crass and do Jewel Chess, where the king is a diamond, the pawns are all rubies, etc.

  1. Things that move “magically” (okay magnetically, but what I means is without being touched by any visible mechanical means) are always fun to watch. This concept (no matter how old it is or who invented it or what the resolution may be) is still a very well suited for all sorts of things and are very cool and promising perhaps even in the board games of the future.
    I imagine pacman (the board game) being more exiting this way.

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