From ATS: Moving reality a step closer to "Fantastic Voyage," researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a micro robot that can crawl through the human body.
“Micro robots are being developed in many research centers, but this is the first time we’ve been able to create one that can crawl through the body,” says Professor Moshe Shoham of the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, who headed the university’s research team. Prof. Shoham is the developer of the FDA-approved SpineAssist spine-surgery robot.
The robot is propelled by micro legs, a mechanism especially adapted to the movements of a tiny body through water. It is only a millimeter in diameter and 14 millimeters long, fitting on the tip of a finger, so it can get into the body’s smallest areas. It is powered by either actuation through magnetic force located outside the body, or through an on-board actuation system. Made of silicone and metal, it can be made completely biocompatible, so it could remain in the body much as a stent placed in arteries does.
“In the future, we hope the robot will be able to travel through a blood vessel, the digestive tract or the lungs, delivering targeted medicines to specific locations, clearing blockages, performing biopsies, or placed inside a shunt to drain body fluids from clogged areas,” Shoham explains.
Prof.Shoham explains that a final product will not be ready for several years. A small enough camera needs to be developed, and an actuation device that will steer the robot once inside the body needs to be perfected. Animal trials are being performed, but human trials are about two years away.