A team at MIT are experimenting with a new type of robotic technology that can be used to treat wounds and remove foreign objects.
Daniela Rus, Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, her team, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have created a tiny robot that is placed inside of a pill, which after is swallowed unfolds. The robot can then be guided through the stomach using magnetic fields and perform tasks. It is also made with an accordion like design to enable it to use “stick-slip” motion to move around and has been augmented with tiny finds to help it move within liquid. The robot then dissolves in the stomach once its tasks have been completed.
The project is being funded from a National Science Foundation grant and the team is currently running experiments using a silicon molded prototype stomach. They are seeking approval from MIT’s animal care committee to test on live animals.
If testing is successful it would pave the way for new medical treatments. Instead of having to undergo surgery the robot is frozen in ice and then swallowed like a pill.