A team of mechanical engineers at Cornell University, working with a colleague from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, has designed and built a tiny robot that is powered by a combustion engine. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they built their tiny engine and possible uses for it. Ryan Truby, with Northwestern University, has published a Perspective piece in the same journal issue outlining the work done by the team on this new effort.

Over the past several decades, roboticists have designed and built ever-smaller robots with the goal of finding a  that can be used for a variety of unique purposes. Virtually all of them have been powered by batteries. But as the size of such robots continues to shrink, it becomes increasingly difficult to power them using battery technology. In this new effort, the researchers have turned to an old technology as a solution—an .

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