拥有巨大潜能的微型机器人 Paul McEuen and Marc Miskin: Tiny robots with giant potential

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演员: Paul McEuen and Marc Miskin


台词
Mark Miskin: This is a rotifer.
马克 · 米斯金(Mark Miskin): 这是一只轮虫,
It's a microorganism about a hair's width in size.
一种大约头发丝 那么宽的微生物。
They live everywhere on earth -- saltwater, freshwater, everywhere --
它们在地球上无处不在—— 海水、淡水,到处都是——
and this one is out looking for food.
而这一只正要出来觅食。
I remember the first time I saw this thing,
记得我第一次看到它时,
I was like eight years old and it completely blew me away.
大概也就八岁, 我完全被震住了。
I mean, here is this incredible little creature,
这么一个不起眼的小东西,
it's hunting, swimming,
却会狩猎、游泳,
going about its life,
四处游动生活。
but its whole universe fits within a drop of pond water.
它的整个宇宙不过是 池塘中的一滴水。
Paul McEuen: So this little rotifer shows us something really amazing.
保罗 · 麦克尤恩(Paul McEuen): 这小小轮虫展示了一种神奇的可能。
It says that you can build a machine
它的存在表明, 我们可以打造一种
that is functional, complex, smart,
实用、复杂、精巧的机器,
but all in a tiny little package,
但又可以那么迷你,
one so small that it's impossible to see it.
小到肉眼看不见。
Now, the engineer in me is just blown away by this thing,
住在我身体里的工程师 完全被这个想法所震惊了——
that anyone could make such a creature.
任何人都能创造这样的小生物。
But right behind that wonder, I have to admit, is a bit of envy.
但我必须承认, 在惊叹之余,我还有点羡慕。
I mean, nature can do it. Why can't we?
大自然能够做到, 我们为什么不能呢?
Why can't we build tiny robots?
我们为什么造不出微型机器人?
Well, I'm not the only one to have this idea.
我不是唯一有过这一想法的人。
In fact, in the last, oh, few years,
实际上,过去几年来,
researchers around the world have taken up the task
世界各国的研究人员都孜孜不倦地
of trying to build robots
致力于制作甚至小到
that are so small that they can't be seen.
肉眼无法看到的机器人。
And what we're going to tell you about today
今天我们想跟大家分享的
is an effort at Cornell University
就是康奈尔大学
and now at the University of Pennsylvania
以及宾夕法尼亚大学
to try to build tiny robots.
在制作微型机器人方面取得的进展。
OK, so that's the goal.
好,那么目标已经明确。
But how do we do it?
我们该怎么做呢?
How do we go about building tiny robots?
我们要怎样打造出微型机器人呢?
Well, Pablo Picasso, of all people, gives us our first clue.
巴勃罗 · 毕加索(Pablo Picasso) 给了我们第一个线索。
Picasso said --
他曾说:
["Good artists copy, great artists steal."]
【优秀的艺术家抄袭, 伟大的艺术家窃取。】
(Laughter)
(笑声)
"Good artists copy. Great artists steal."
“优秀的艺术家抄袭, 伟大的艺术家窃取。”
(Laughter)
(笑声)
OK. But steal from what?
好,那么从哪儿“窃取”呢?
Well, believe it or not,
信不信由你,
most of the technology you need to build a tiny robot already exists.
制作微型机器人的 大部分技术都是现成的。
The semiconductor industry has been getting better and better
半导体行业正在使用 越来越先进的生产工艺
at making tinier and tinier devices,
来制造越来越小型设备。
so at this point they could put something like a million transistors
现在,这些工艺 可以把上百万个晶体管
into the size of a package that is occupied by, say,
放入差不多一个单细胞草履虫
a single-celled paramecium.
那么大的空间里。
And it's not just electronics.
不仅仅电子技术如此,
They can also build little sensors,
它们还能制作出小型传感器、
LEDs,
LED 屏,
whole communication packages that are too small to be seen.
还有一堆小到看不见的封装。
So that's what we're going to do.
这也就是我们要做的——
We're going to steal that technology.
我们要“窃取”这种技术。
Here's a robot.
这是一个机器人。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Robot's got two parts, as it turns out.
机器人由两个部分组成。
It's got a head, and it's got legs.
头和腿。
[Steal these: Brains]
【窃取:大脑】
(Laughter)
(笑声)
We're going to call this a legless robot,
我们把这个叫做无腿机器人。
which may sound exotic,
这听起来可能有点儿另类,
but they're pretty cool all by themselves.
其实它相当酷。
In fact, most of you have a legless robot with you right now.
实际上,大部分人现在 手里就有个无腿机器人。
Your smartphone is the world's most successful legless robot.
你们的智能手机就是 世界上最成功的的无腿机器人。
In just 15 years, it has taken over the entire planet.
不到 15 年,它就掌控了整个世界。
And why not?
为什么不呢?
It's such a beautiful little machine.
它是个如此美丽的小机器。
It's incredibly intelligent,
不仅相当智能,
it's got great communication skills,
通信功能一流,
and it's all in a package that you can hold in your hand.
而且一只手就能掌控。
So we would like to be able to build something like this,
因此,我们也想研制出 类似这样的机器人,
only down at the cellular scale,
只是小到细胞级,
the size of a paramecium.
跟草履虫差不多。
And here it is.
就是这个了。
This is our cell-sized smartphone.
这就是我们所说的细胞级智能手机。
It even kind of looks like a smartphone,
看起来也跟智能手机差不多,
only it's about 10,000 times smaller.
只是小了 1 万倍。
We call it an OWIC.
我们称它为 OWIC 。
[Optical Wireless Integrated Circuits]
【光学无线集成电路(OWIC)】
OK, we're not advertisers, all right?
好了,我们不是来打广告的,好吧?
(Laughter)
(笑声)
But it's pretty cool all by itself.
但它本来就相当酷。
In fact, this OWIC has a number of parts.
实际上,这个 OWIC 由很多部分组成。
So up near the top,
最上部有一些
there are these cool little solar cells that you shine light on the device
小巧的太阳能电池, 如果把光照射在设备上,
and it wakes up a little circuit that's there in the middle.
它就会激活中间的一小块电路。
And that circuit can drive a little tiny LED
随后这个电路 会驱动小小的 LED 屏,
that can blink at you and allows the OWIC to communicate with you.
让它闪烁, 从而允许 OWIC 与你交流。
So unlike your cell phone,
与手机不同,
the OWIC communicates with light,
OWIC 用光交流,
sort of like a tiny firefly.
像个小萤火虫。
Now, one thing that's pretty cool about these OWICs
这些 OWIC 还有一点很酷,
is we don't make them one at a time,
那就是,我们不是一次造一件,
soldering all the pieces together.
再把所有零件焊接起来,
We make them in massive parallel.
而是可以进行大规模并行制造。
For example, about a million of these OWICs
比如,一个 4 英寸的晶片
can fit on a single four-inch wafer.
可以放下约 100 万个这样的 OWIC 。
And just like your phone has different apps,
就像你的手机 有不同的应用程序(app),
you can have different kinds of OWICs.
我们也有不同的 OWIC 。
There can be ones that, say, measure voltage,
比如,有的可以用来测量电压,
some that measure temperature,
有的可以测量温度,
or just have a little light that can blink at you to tell you that it's there.
或者有的只是一个闪烁小光点, 告诉你它就在那里。
So that's pretty cool, these tiny little devices.
所以,这些小装置挺酷的。
And I'd like to tell you about them in a little more detail.
我想要再和大家分享一些细节。
But first, I have to tell you about something else.
但首先,我要岔开下话题,
I'm going to tell you a few things about pennies that you might not know.
我要和大家分享几件也许你们 没听说过的,关于一分钱硬币的轶事。
So this one is a little bit older penny.
这个硬币比较老旧,
It's got a picture of the Lincoln Memorial on the back.
背面是林肯纪念堂的图案。
But the first thing you might not know,
但首先,各位可能不知道,
that if you zoom in, you'll find in the center of this thing
如果把它放大, 在这个硬币图案的中间
you can actually see Abraham Lincoln,
真的可以看到亚伯拉罕 · 林肯 (Abraham Lincoln),
just like in the real Lincoln Memorial not so far from here.
就像在附近 真正的林肯纪念堂里一样。
What I'm sure you don't know,
我还很确定各位不知道,
that if you zoom in even further --
如果再进一步放大——
(Laughter)
(笑声)
you'll see that there's actually an OWIC on Abe Lincoln's chest.
各位可以看见在 林肯的胸前有一个 OWIC 。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
But the cool thing is,
但最酷的是,
you could stare at this all day long and you would never see it.
就算你盯着看一整天, 你也看不到。
It's invisible to the naked eye.
因为它是肉眼不可见的,
These OWICs are so small,
这些 OWIC 非常小,
and we make them in such parallel fashion,
我们用这种并行制造的方式,
that each OWIC costs actually less than a penny.
让每一个 OWIC 的成本不到一分钱。
In fact, the most expensive thing in this demo is that little sticker
实际上,在我的展示里, 最贵的要数写着
that says "OWIC."
“OWIC” 的那张小贴纸了。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
That cost about eight cents.
那贴纸花了我 8 分钱。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Now, we're very excited about these things for all sorts of reasons.
我们为这小东西 如此激动的原因有很多。
For example, we can use them as little tiny secure smart tags,
比如,我们可以 用它们来做微型安全智能标签,
more identifying than a fingerprint.
识别度比指纹还好。
We're actually putting them inside of other medical instruments
我们也在把它们应用于 其它医疗器械,
to give other information,
用来获取更多信息,
and even starting to think about putting them in the brain
我们甚至想过有一天要 把它们放进大脑里
to listen to neurons one at a time.
来倾听神经元,一次一个。
In fact, there's only one thing wrong with these OWICs:
实际上, 这些 OWIC 只有一个问题:
it's not a robot.
它不是一个机器人,
It's just a head.
它只是一个头。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
And I think we'll all agree
我想,大家都同意
that half a robot really isn't a robot at all.
半个机器人真的算不上一个机器人。
Without the legs, we've got basically nothing.
基本上,没有腿就什么都不是。
MM: OK, so you need the legs, too, if you want to build a robot.
MM:好,也就是说 若要打造这个机器人,你需要腿。
Now, here it turns out you can't just steal
现在,我们发现这部分
some preexisting technology.
无法从现有的技术中窃取。
If you want legs for your tiny robot, you need actuators, parts that move.
如果想要让小机器人有腿, 就需要促动器和会动的零部件。
They have to satisfy a lot of different requirements.
它们必须满足许多条件:
They need to be low voltage.
它们得是低电压,
They need to be low power, too.
也必须是低功率。
But most importantly, they have to be small.
但最重要的是要足够小。
If you want to build a cell-sized robot, you need cell-sized legs.
若想要打造细胞大小的机器人, 就必须要有细胞大小的腿。
Now, nobody knows how to build that.
目前还没有人知道 如何打造这样的腿,
There was no preexisting technology that meets all of those demands.
因为没有任何现有技术 能满足上述条件。
To make our legs for our tiny robots,
若要帮我们的微型机器人做腿,
we had to make something new.
我们就需要创新。
So here's what we built.
所以,这就是我们的研发成果。
This is one of our actuators, and I'm applying a voltage to it.
这是我们使用的促动器之一, 我现在给它施加一定的电压。
When I do, you can see the actuator respond by curling up.
大家可以看到, 促动器做出了蜷缩反应。
Now, this might not look like much,
这可能看起来没什么,
but if we were to put a red blood cell up on the screen, it'd be about that big,
但如果我们把红血球细胞放在旁边 做对比,就能看出它有多小了,
so these are unbelievably tiny curls.
所以这些是微小到极致的蜷缩。
They're unbelievably small,
它们小到难以置信,
and yet this device can just bend and unbend, no problem, nothing breaks.
而且这个装置可以反复弯曲、伸直, 完全没问题,不会断掉。
So how do we do it?
那么我们是怎么做到的呢?
Well, the actuator is made from a layer of platinum
促动器是用 只有一打原子差不多厚的
just a dozen atoms or so thick.
一层铂制成的。
Now it turns out, if you take platinum and put it in water
然后我们发现, 如果你把铂放进水中
and apply a voltage to it,
并给它施加电压,
atoms from the water will attach or remove themselves
水中的原子就会吸附到
from the surface of the platinum,
铂的表面或是脱离——
depending on how much voltage you use.
这取决于使用的电压高低——
This creates a force,
从而产生力,
and you can use that force for voltage-controlled actuation.
我们可以借此实现一些 由电压控制的活动。
The key here was to make everything ultrathin.
这里的关键 在于所有材料都要超薄。
Then your actuator is flexible enough
而且促动器要有足够的灵活性,
to bend to these small sizes without breaking,
即能做到微观层面的弯曲, 还不会断裂,
and it can use the forces that come about
同时,它可以利用附着或移除
from just attaching or removing a single layer of atoms.
一层原子所产生出来的力。
Now, we don't have to build these one at a time, either.
同样,我们不必一次 只制造一个促动器。
In fact, just like the OWICs,
事实上,和 OWIC 一样,
we can build them massively in parallel as well.
我们也可以进行并行量产。
So here's a couple thousand or so actuators,
这里大约有几千个促动器,
and all I'm doing is applying a voltage,
我现在所做的就是施加电压,
and they all wave,
于是它们就会摇摆,
looking like nothing more than the legs of a future robot army.
看起来就像是未来机器人军团的腿。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
So now we've got the brains and we've got the brawn.
所以,现在我们有头有脚了,
We've got the smarts and the actuators.
我们有了思想,也有驱动力了。
The OWICs are the brains.
OWIC 就是大脑,
They give us sensors, they give us power supplies,
它们能为我们提供 传感器和电源,
and they give us a two-way communication system via light.
还能通过光来跟我们进行互动。
The platinum layers are the muscle.
铂层就是肌肉,
They're what's going to move the robot around.
它们可以让机器人四处走动,
Now we can take those two pieces, put them together
现在我们可以把这两部分拼接起来,
and start to build our tiny, tiny robots.
开始打造我们的超级迷你机器人。
The first thing we wanted to build was something really simple.
我想先从简单的部分开始。
This robot walks around under user control.
这个机器人是人工控制的,
In the middle are some solar cells and some wiring attached to it.
中间是太阳能电池 和一些连接在其上的布线。
That's the OWIC.
那是 OWIC 。
They're connected to a set of legs which have a platinum layer
它们与一组腿相连接, 腿上有一层铂,
and these rigid panels that we put on top
我们放在上面的这些坚硬的板子
that tell the legs how to fold up, which shape they should take.
会指挥腿如何翻折, 应该翻折成怎样的形状。
The idea is that by shooting a laser at the different solar cells,
我们的想法是通过把激光 投射在不同的太阳能板上,
you can choose which leg you want to move
你就可以选择要移动哪条腿,
and make the robot walk around.
从而让机器人走起来。
Now, of course, we don't build those one at a time, either.
当然,我们也不用一次造一个,
We build them massively in parallel as well.
同样可以通过并行量产来实现。
We can build something like one million robots on a single four-inch wafer.
我们可以在一个 4 英寸的晶片上 制造 100 万个机器人。
So, for example, this image on the left, this is a chip,
比如,左图是一块晶片,
and this chip has something like 10,000 robots on it.
这个晶片上就有 1 万个机器人。
Now, in our world, the macro world,
在我们的宏观世界里,
this thing looks like it might be a new microprocessor or something.
这个东西看起来就像个 新型微型处理器之类的东西。
But if you take that chip and you put it under a microscope,
但如果你把这个晶片放到显微镜下,
what you're going to see are thousands and thousands of tiny robots.
你会看见数以千计的微型机器人。
Now, these robots are still stuck down.
目前,这些机器人还黏在上面,
They're still attached to the surface that we built them on.
仍然是我们刚打造好的状态。
In order for them to walk around, we have to release them.
若要让它们能够四处行走, 我们必须释放它们。
We wanted to show you how we do that live, how we release the robot army,
我们本想在现场展示 我们是怎样释放机器人军团的,
but the process involves highly dangerous chemicals,
但这个过程会用到高危化学品,
like, really nasty stuff,
非常容易出状况,
and we're like a mile from the White House right now?
而且我们现在距离白宫 也就 1 英里吧?
Yeah. They wouldn't let us do it.
是的,所以他们不会 让我们现场展示的。
So --
所以——
(Laughter)
(笑声)
so we're going to show you a movie instead. (Laughs)
所以我们只能现场放视频。 (笑声)
What you're looking at here are the final stages of robot deployment.
各位看到的是 机器人部署的最后阶段,
We're using chemicals
我们使用化学物质
to etch the substrate out from underneath the robots.
将机器人底部的基质腐蚀掉。
When it dissolves, the robots are free to fold up into their final shapes.
基质溶解后,机器人 就可以自由翻折成成品的形状。
Now, you can see here, the yield's about 90 percent,
那么各位看这儿,这一批的 成功率大概是 90% ,
so almost every one of those 10,000 robots we build,
所以我们打造的近 1 万个机器人
that's a robot that we can deploy and control later.
都可供我们在之后部署与控制。
And we can take those robots and we can put them places as well.
我们还可以把这些 机器人放置到其它地方。
So if you look at the movie on the left, that's some robots in water.
在座的各位可以看到, 左侧视频中,一些机器人在水里。
I'm going to come along with a pipette,
现在我拿一支移液管过去,
and I can vacuum them all up.
我就可以把它们都吸上来。
Now when you inject the robots back out of that pipette,
当你再把机器人从移液管 注入到其它地方时,
they're just fine.
它们依旧完好无损。
In fact, these robots are so small,
实际上,这些机器人小到
they're small enough to pass through the thinnest hypodermic needle
能够通过你能买到的
you can buy.
最细的皮下注射针头。
Yeah, so if you wanted to,
没错,如果你想的话,
you could inject yourself full of robots.
你可以把全身注满机器人。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
I think they're into it.
我看他们很感兴趣。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
On the right is a robot that we put in some pond water.
在右边的画面里, 我们把机器人放在了池塘水中,
I want you to wait for just one second.
大家稍等一下。
Ooop!
噢!
You see that? That was no shark. That was a paramecium.
你们看到了吗?那不是鲨鱼, 只是一条草履虫。
So that's the world that these things live in.
那就是它们生活的世界,
OK, so this is all well and good,
好的,这些都不错,
but you might be wondering at this point,
但此刻你或许会纳闷,
"Well, do they walk?"
“它们会走路吗?”
Right? That's what they're supposed to do. They better. So let's find out.
对吧?它们应该要会, 它们最好会,所以我们来瞧瞧。
So here's the robot and here are its solar cells in the middle.
这是一个机器人, 中间是它们的太阳板,
Those are those little rectangles.
就是那些小长方形,
I want you to look at the solar cell closest to the top of the slide.
我想让大家看一下 最靠近屏幕上方的太阳能电池,
See that little white dot? That's a laser spot.
有看到一个小白点吗? 那是激光打上去的点。
Now watch what happens when we start switching that laser
现在我们开始把这个激光点移到
between different solar cells on the robot.
不同的太阳能电池上面。
Off it goes!
它开始走动了!
(Applause)
(掌声)
Yeah!
耶!
(Applause)
(掌声)
Off goes the robot marching around the microworld.
机器人开始在微观世界行进了。
Now, one of the things that's cool about this movie is:
这个视频里最酷的是:
I'm actually piloting the robot in this movie.
在视频中,我正在操纵着机器人。
In fact, for six months, my job was to shoot lasers at tiny cell-sized robots
实际上, 6 个月来,我的工作就是 把激光投射在细胞大小的机器人上,
to pilot them around the microworld.
操纵它们在微观世界里的行动。
This was actually my job.
这其实就是我的工作。
As far as I could tell, that is the coolest job in the world.
目前来说,这是我知道的 世界上最酷的工作。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
It was just the feeling of total excitement,
简直太让人激动了,
like you're doing the impossible.
就像你在挑战不可能。
It's a feeling of wonder like that first time I looked through a microscope
这种惊奇感就像我小时候
as a kid staring at that rotifer.
第一次通过显微镜看到轮虫一样。
Now, I'm a dad, I have a son of my own, and he's about three years old.
现在,我是一位父亲, 有一个快 3 岁的儿子。
But one day, he's going to look through a microscope like that one.
但有一天,他也会看向显微镜。
And I often wonder:
我总是想:
What is he going to see?
他会看到什么?
Instead of just watching the microworld,
除了只是观察微观世界,
we as humans can now build technology to shape it,
我们人类如今还能创造新技术 来构建这一微观世界,
to interact with it, to engineer it.
与之互动,为之设计。
In 30 years, when my son is my age, what will we do with that ability?
等 30 年后,我儿子到了我的年纪, 我们又会怎样运用那种能力?
Will microrobots live in our bloodstream,
微型机器人会不会就像细菌一样
as common as bacteria?
生活在我们的血液中?
Will they live on our crops and get rid of pests?
它们会不会生存在农作物中 以去除害虫?
Will they tell us when we have infections, or will they fight cancer cell by cell?
它们会不会在我们身体受到感染时 发出提醒,或者与癌症细胞作战?
PM: And one cool part is,
PM:还有很酷的一点就是,
you're going to be able to participate in this revolution.
你也能够加入这场革命,
Ten years or so from now,
再过十几年,
when you buy your new iPhone 15x Moto or whatever it's called --
当你买了新的 iPhone 15x Moto, 不管它叫啥——
(Laughter)
(笑声)
it may come with a little jar with a few thousand tiny robots in it
它可能会附上一个 装了几千个微型机器人的小罐子,
that you can control by an app on your cell phone.
你可以用手机上的 app 来控制它们。
So if you want to ride a paramecium, go for it.
所以如果你想要驾驭草履虫, 那就去吧。
If you want to -- I don't know -- DJ the world's smallest robot dance party,
如果你想要成为 世界上的最小机器人舞会的 DJ ,
make it happen.
就去做吧。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
And I, for one, am very excited about that day coming.
我个人真的非常期待 那一天的到来。
MM: Thank you.
MM:谢谢。
(Applause)
(掌声)