All-terrain microrobot flips through a live colon

Image by Kvistholt Photography

OCT. 15, 2020

A rectangular robot as tiny as a few human hairs can travel throughout a colon by doing back flips, engineers have demonstrated in live animal models.

In living animal models, engineers at Purdue University have demonstrated that a rectangular robot as tiny as a few human hairs can pass through a large intestine by backflipping.

Why does the back rotate? Since the aim is to use these robots to transport medicines to humans with inaccessible terrain in their colons and other organs. Side flips also work.

The first demonstration of a microrobot tumbling through a biological system in vivo has been published in the journal Micromachines. The microrobot is externally operated by a magnetic field and controlled wirelessly, as it is too small to hold a battery.

“We were able to achieve a nice, controlled release of the drug payload. This means that we may be able to direct the microrobot to a point in the body, leave it there, and then slowly let the drug come out. And because the microrobot has a polymer coating, the drug wouldn’t fall off before it reached a destination, “said Solorio.

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Neelesh Thallam

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