DIL packages for integrated circuits with their parallel
lines of legs have often been compared to centipedes and
like centipedes they tend to have fewer than a hundred
legs. With a little modification, a kind of system-on-a-
chip could be made to use its own pins for locomotion.
legs, if I remember correctly, respond to each
other's movements locally, and even if they didn't, they
still could work that way. A pair of pins moving at one end
of a DIL package could trigger a wave of movements
alternating due to a slight delay on one side. Memory
metal could be used to some extent - heating the pin
would cause it to shift, then a signal travels down the line
of pins inside the chip.
In order to move sideways, the pins could be extended
laterally on one side while being pulled towards the body
on the other. This could be achieved by induction motors
and the insides of the legs being made of steel.
The upper surface of the package could be made of
photoelectric material, divided into sections so that the
chip can locate the direction of the highest intensity of
light by comparing the signals via analogue to digital
converters. The light could also be used to supply power to
a battery or capacitor within the chip. Small piezoelectric
crystals could be used as microphones to give the beast a
sense of hearing too.
The basic mode of operation for the electronic centipede
could resemble those testudo robots built in the mid-
twentieth century, which sought out light and power
supplies in an artificial environment and moved backwards,
forwards in arcs, except that these would be more
rectilinear. An EPROM within the device could store
instructions for movement and other behaviour.
Various applications, such as getting them to write with
inky legs or maybe flock together. None particularly useful
Clearly the actual integrated circuit would have to be
protected from the atmosphere since the legs are now
going to be moving around, so wrap it in plastic and have
it communicate with the legs by something like induction.