Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics

, Volume 14, Issue 1–2, pp 25–34 | Cite as

Experiments and open-loop control of multiple catalytic microrobots

  • Sambeeta DasEmail author
  • Edward B. Steager
  • M. Ani Hsieh
  • Kathleen J. Stebe
  • Vijay Kumar
Research Paper


The ability to direct microrobots in the low Reynolds number regime has broad applications in engineering, biology and medicine. In contrast to externally driven robots, catalytically driven microrobots utilize chemical reactions to hyphenate all instances in solution. Controlling multiple self propelled microrobots in the same workspace has been an ongoing challenge for the field. In this paper we present a novel method for open loop control of multiple microrobots in the same workspace by combining their catalytic actuation with magnetic actuation. By using a catalytic cap to regulate the directions of motion and leveraging the inherent variations in model parameters in a collection of paramagnetic microrobots, we show how collective motion patterns can be achieved. We validate our proposed strategy in simulations using a simple kinematic model of each robot, and in experiments. Our results suggest that simultaneous steering of multiple microrobots to arbitrary locations might be controllable using sophisticated control techniques such as ensemble control.


Micromotor Microrobot Magnetically controlled Open-loop control Self-propelled 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of ONR grant N00014-11-1-0725, NSF grant CNS-1446592, GAANN grant P200A120246, NSF DMR 1607878 and MRSEC grant DMR11-20901.

Supplementary material

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12213_2018_106_MOESM6_ESM.docx (164 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GRASP Laboratory, School of Engineering and Applied SciencesUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied SciencesUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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