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For this viewpoint, macroscale robots or microrobots that can move with nanoscale precision can also be considered nanorobots.According to Richard Feynman, it was his former graduate student and collaborator Albert Hibbs who originally suggested to him (circa 1959) the idea of a medical use for Feynman's theoretical micromachines (see nanomachine).An example is a sensor having a switch approximately 1.5 nanometers across, able to count specific molecules in a chemical sample.The first useful applications of nanomachines may be in nanomedicine.In the same ways that technology research and development drove the space race and nuclear arms race, a race for nanorobots is occurring.Some of the reasons are that large corporations, such as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Synopsys, Northrop Grumman and Siemens have been recently working in the development and research of nanorobots; A large number of patents has been granted recently on nanorobots, done mostly for patent agents, companies specialized solely on building patent portfolios, and lawyers.
They further assert that their current plans for developing and using molecular manufacturing do not in fact include free-foraging replicators.
It is actuated by controlling the environmental temperature and by positioning a scanning tunneling microscope tip.
Another definition is a robot that allows precise interactions with nanoscale objects, or can manipulate with nanoscale resolution.
A document with a proposal on nanobiotech development using open design technology methods, as in open-source hardware and open-source software, has been addressed to the United Nations General Assembly.
According to the document sent to the United Nations, in the same way that open source has in recent years accelerated the development of computer systems, a similar approach should benefit the society at large and accelerate nanorobotics development.
Since nanorobots would be microscopic in size, it would probably be necessary for very large numbers of them to work together to perform microscopic and macroscopic tasks.