The Robeetle—a tiny scurrying robot that at 88 gram weighs about the same as three grains of rice—has earned a Guinness Record as the world's smallest crawling robot.
Developed by Néstor O. Pérez-Arancibia and colleagues at Washington State University, the "soft robot" is powered by alcohol, specifically methanol. Watch it go in the video below.
From WSU Insider:
The lightest crawling robot ever developed, the Robeetle is uniquely powered by the catalytic combustion of methanol and can climb slopes, navigate various surfaces, and haul objects that weight up to 2.6 times its own weight.
The researchers used pneumatic valves and air flow to allow the robot to coordinate its muscles without relying on an electronics-based control system.
Pérez-Arancibia hopes his robots can someday be used to solve tricky engineering problems by emulating talented creatures like squid or mice that can seamlessly squeeze themselves like liquid into tight places. Biology, particularly insects, still surpass their robotic counterparts in almost every aspect, but he hopes to develop robots in the next decade that are significantly better at mimicking natural systems.