Tiny robot can go on missions inside the body

Scientists have come up with a tiny robot that could revolutionize treatment of the digestive system.

Developed by an international research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sheffield University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the appropriately named ‘origami robot’ can be swallowed inside a pill made of ice and then unfolded in the stomach when the ice melts.

During recent trials conducted inside a mock stomach, the robot was used to dislodge and move a foreign object via an external control mechanism that works using magnetic fields.

The technology could prove particularly invaluable in helping patients, especially small children, who have accidentally swallowed batteries – something that happens 3,500 times a year in the US.

It should also be possible to repurpose the device to perform other beneficial services such as administering drugs or conducting surgical procedures in otherwise inaccessible areas.

“It’s really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to healthcare,” said Professor Daniela Rus of MIT.

David Aragorn

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