When we think of robots, we generally think of bulky machines equipped with complex systems and electronics. Now, scientists have engineered a tiny, microscopic AI robot that can enter the human body and can manoeuvre and change shapes in order to best fit its environment.
These devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape when needed, they can pass through narrow blood vessels and intricate systems without compromising on speed or manoeuvrability. The scientists, led by Selman Sakar at EPFL and Bradley Nelson at ETH Zurich — drew inspiration from bacteria to design smart, biocompatible microrobots that are highly flexible.
“One day we may be able to ingest tiny robots that deliver drugs directly to diseased tissue, thanks to research being carried out at EPFL and ETH Zurich.”
The biocompatible microrobots are made of hydrogel nanocomposites that contain magnetic nanoparticles allowing them to be controlled via an electromagnetic field.
In addition to offering enhanced effectiveness, these miniaturized soft robots can also be manufactured easily at a reasonable cost. For now, the research team is working on improving the performance for swimming through complex fluids like those found in the human body.
“Our robots have a special composition and structure that allow them to adapt to the characteristics of the fluid they are moving through. For instance, if they encounter a change in viscosity or osmotic concentration, they modify their shape to maintain their speed and maneuverability without losing control of the direction of motion,” says Sakar.
‘Think While Its Legal’ – Our Thoughts:
While any development in technology to help human health is always a great thing, a military application cannot be ruled out. Lets be honest, you could “remove” someone or a group of people without firing a single shot. Simply programme one or a few of these microrobots with instructions to cause an organ or organs to fail and have the target/s ingest it. You have a weapon that is literally ‘silent, but deadly’.