Bioengineers are currently designing micro-nano systems for the treatment and monitoring of diseases. DNA machines, synthetic bacteria, nanoparticles, and magnetic materials are now able to move, sense and interact in a controlled fashion, an affordance that has led them to be called robots. These robots will need to be deployed in large numbers and operate predictably in highly complex biological environments. For instance, trillions of nanorobots would be needed to deliver drugs to a tumor or yield a visible signal for sensing. Toward this end, the field of swarm robotics offers tools and techniques for controlling large numbers of agents with limited capabilities. The challenge is to design swarm robotic strategies that produce collective behaviors that are useful for biomedical applications. This will require advances in high-resolution understanding of biology, micro-nano robotics, fast prototyping of experimental environments, systems modeling, simulators to explore swarm strategies, and scalable control at the micro-nano scale.
In this fast-paced workshop, attendees will hear from experts in medicine, bioengineering, micro-nano robotics, and swarm robotics. A poster session will encourage student participation and allow peers to interact in an informal setting. Finally, we will brainstorm challenges and opportunities in micro-nano swarm robotics during a closing panel discussion.