Currently in development, “origami robots” could help treat patients with internal maladies.
Researchers from MIT, the University of Sheffield and the Tokyo Institute of Technology are working to create tiny ingestible robots that unfold themselves from a capsule. Controlled by sensors and an external magnet, the robots are able to find foreign objects that have been swallowed, and then guide the objects out of the body.
The robot is made from a type of dried pig intestine and has a magnet at the centre of its accordion folds, which allows it to be controlled by applying changing magnetic fields outside the body.
According to the researchers, the robot could also be used to deliver medicine at targeted locations or take care of internal wounds, which would eliminate the need for risky, invasive surgery for some patients.
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