Vein-crawling robot insect

Paul Raven @ 13-07-2009

vein crawling robotFeeling tiny insects crawling through your veins sounds like some sort of Burroughs-esque junk withdrawal nightmare (and with good reason), but Israeli scientists are hoping that a millimetre-diameter robotic bug could be used to diagnose and treat artery blockages and cancer in human patients without the need for major invasive surgery:

The little robot – with a diameter of just one millimeter – has neither engine nor onboard controls, instead being propelled forward by a magnetic field wielded on it from outside the patient’s body.

Controlling the tiny bot externally means boffins have been able to shrink it to a previously impossibly tiny scale […]

Scientists reckon the mini bot can even withstand massive blood flow and is able to push forward regardless of the magnetic field actuation direction, doing away with any need for exact localisation and direction retrieval.

A controller can move the little crawly creature in increments, with its speed of up to nine millimeters a second regulated by varying external magnetic field frequencies. Outside control also means the robot can be made to work for an unlimited amount of time, rather than suddenly – not to mention inconveniently – keeling over to die of battery failure in the middle of a medical procedure.

Promising… but still pretty freaky. You can thank regular reader and commenter Robert Koslover for grossing you out with this one. [image borrowed from linked article]

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