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Robots have been helping humans since their invention in the 1950s; while there is an infinite number of purposes they can serve, robot production is constrained mostly by logistical and mechanical details. Sarah Bergbreiter, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, joins us today to discuss her work in the field of robotics. She works to create small, mobile robots – some as small as ants – as well as improving sensors and actuators that improve the capabilities of larger robots.

She calls this area of research the “intersection of microsystems and robotics.” Bergbreiter discusses the possible applications of this research, from medical devices to assist with natural disaster recovery. Bergbreiter also discusses some of the challenges involved in working on small-scale robots – specifically, how different materials must interface in order to create a working robot that may only be only a few millimeters long.

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