There's something inherently creepy about tiny, skittering robots, and if you need to add a new terrifying bullet point to the robot apocalypse list, you might as well start here. This 6.5-cm guy can move at 30 body-lengths per second. If it were a full-size car, that amounts to about 400 miles per hour.
Developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins and shown off at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Germany, the tiny unnamed robot is a mere 6.5 by 5.5 by 1 centimeters. But thanks to direct drive and little wheeled-legs called "whegs," it could very well be the fastest robot ever for its size. Each wheg has its own ridiculous six millimeter motor that spins at 40,000 RPM (and costs several hundred dollars), and the bot only uses less than half of that power since not every sweep of the legs connects with ground quite right.
Researchers think that if they outfit the bugger with slightly larger whegs, they might be able to get it going even faster, while still retaining the ability to climb over stuff in its way and fit in the palm of your hand. Who knows what kind of use these little bots could be put to but battery life is bound to be a concern. For now though, just seeing one dart across the floor is cool (and creepy) enough. [IEEE Spectrum]