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  1. Miniature Magnetic Rotating Swimmers (MMRSs) are untethered machines containing magnetic materials. An external rotating magnetic field produces a torque on the swimmers to make them rotate. MMRSs have propeller fins that convert the rotating motion into forward propulsion. This type of robot has been shown to have potential applications in the medical realm. This paper presents new MMRS designs with (1) an increased permanent magnet volume to increase the available torque and prevent the MMRS from becoming stuck inside a thrombus; (2) new helix designs that produce an increased force to compensate for the weight added by the larger permanent magnet volume; (3) different head drill shape designs that have different interactions with thrombi. The two best MMRS designs were tested experimentally by removing a partially dried 1-hour-old thrombus with flow in a bifurcating artery model. The first MMRS disrupted a large portion of the thrombus. The second MMRS retrieved a small remaining piece of the thrombus. In addition, a tool for inserting, retrieving, and switching MMRSs during an experiment is presented and demonstrated. Finally, this paper shows that the two selected MMRS designs can perform accurate 3D path-following. 
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  2. We investigate motion planning algorithms for the assembly of shapes in the tilt model in which unit-square tiles move in a grid world under the influence of uniform external forces and self-assemble according to certain rules. We provide several heuristics and experimental evaluation of their success rate, solution length, and runtime. Video: https://youtu.be/VU1SZYzeaXw Transcript: This animation shows colored tiles moved by a global signal so they all move in the same direction unless blocked. This simple example is solved using the Greatest Distance heuristic, which finds the shortest path in 21 steps. Each tile has glue on the four sides that only stick to compatible glues. Glue type is denoted by color. The objective is to manipulate the tiles to bond in the shape of the connected polyomino target outlined in red. The Polyomino Assembly Problem is PSPACE-hard, so optimal solutions are difficult to find. This more complicated workspace was solved using the Minimum Move to Polyomino or Target. This approach is not optimal, but is a best-first search that attempts to keep tiles not involved in the present construction step separated from each other. This is done by pruning configurations with undesired subassemblies from the search tree. The solution requires 473 steps. 
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  3. Ani Hsieh (Ed.)
    Reconfigurable modular robots can dynamically assemble/disassemble to accomplish the desired task better. Magnetic modular cubes are scalable modular subunits with embedded permanent magnets in a 3D-printed cubic body and can be wirelessly controlled by an external, uniform, timevarying magnetic field. This paper considers the problem of self-assembling these modules into desired 2D polyomino shapes using such magnetic fields. Although the applied magnetic field is the same for each magnetic modular cube, we use collisions with workspace boundaries to rearrange the cubes. We present a closed-loop control method for self-assembling the magnetic modular cubes into polyomino shapes, using computer vision-based feedback with re-planning. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed closed-loop control improves the success rate of forming 2D user-specified polyominoes compared to an open-loop baseline. We also demonstrate the validity of the approach over changes in length scales, testing with both 10mm edge length cubes and 2.8mm edge length cubes. 
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  4. This paper presents four data-driven system models for a magnetically controlled swimmer. The models were derived directly from experimental data, and the accuracy of the models was experimentally demonstrated. Our previous study successfully implemented two non-model-based control algorithms for 3D path-following using PID and model reference adaptive controller (MRAC). This paper focuses on system identification using only experimental data and a model-based control strategy. Four system models were derived: (1) a physical estimation model, (2, 3) Sparse Identification of Nonlinear Dynamics (SINDY), linear system and nonlinear system, and (4) multilayer perceptron (MLP). All four system models were implemented as an estimator of a multi-step Kalman filter. The maximum required sensing interval was increased from 180 ms to 420 ms and the respective tracking error decreased from 9 mm to 4.6 mm. Finally, a Model Predictive Controller (MPC) implementing the linear SINDY model was tested for 3D path-following and shown to be computationally efficient and offers performances comparable to other control methods. 
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  5. This paper examines a family of designs for magnetic cubes and counts how many configurations are possible for each design as a function of the number of modules. Magnetic modular cubes are cubes with magnets arranged on their faces. The magnets are positioned so that each face has either magnetic south or north pole outward. Moreover, we require that the net magnetic moment of the cube passes through the center of opposing faces. These magnetic arrangements enable coupling when cube faces with opposite polarity are brought in close proximity and enable moving the cubes by controlling the orientation of a global magnetic field. This paper investigates the 2D and 3D shapes that can be constructed by magnetic modular cubes, and describes all possible magnet arrangements that obey these rules. We select ten magnetic arrangements and assign a "color" to each of them for ease of visualization and reference. We provide a method to enumerate the number of unique polyominoes and polycubes that can be constructed from a given set of colored cubes. We use this method to enumerate all arrangements for up to 20 modules in 2D and 16 modules in 3D. We provide a motion planner for 2D assembly and through simulations compare which arrangements require fewer movements to generate and which arrangements are more common. Hardware demonstrations explore the self-assembly and disassembly of these modules in 2D and 3D. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    We investigate algorithmic approaches for targeted drug delivery in a complex, maze-like environment, such as a vascular system. The basic scenario is given by a large swarm of micro-scale particles ("agents") and a particular target region ("tumor") within a system of passageways. Agents are too small to contain on-board power or computation and are instead controlled by a global external force that acts uniformly on all particles, such as an applied fluidic flow or electromagnetic field. The challenge is to deliver all agents to the target region with a minimum number of actuation steps. We provide a number of results for this challenge. We show that the underlying problem is NP-hard, which explains why previous work did not provide provably efficient algorithms. We also develop a number of algorithmic approaches that greatly improve the worst-case guarantees for the number of required actuation steps. We evaluate our algorithmic approaches by a number of simulations, both for deterministic algorithms and searches supported by deep learning, which show that the performance is practically promising. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Rotating miniature magnetic swimmers are de-vices that could navigate within the bloodstream to access remote locations of the body and perform minimally invasive procedures. The rotational movement could be used, for example, to abrade a pulmonary embolus. Some regions, such as the heart, are challenging to navigate. Cardiac and respiratory motions of the heart combined with a fast and variable blood flow necessitate a highly agile swimmer. This swimmer should minimize contact with the walls of the blood vessels and the cardiac structures to mitigate the risk of complications. This paper presents experimental tests of a millimeter-scale magnetic helical swimmer navigating in a blood-mimicking solution and describes its turning capabilities. The step-out frequency and the position error were measured for different values of turn radius. The paper also introduces rapid movements that increase the swimmer's agility and demonstrates these experimentally on a complex 3D trajectory. 
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