It may sound like the start of a SciFi Channel Original Movie, but scientists have invented a wasp-inspired robot that can drill inside your brain as safely as possible. Your new phobia begins here.
The robotic probe was created by researchers at Imperial College, London, and inspired by female wood wasps of the Siricidae family, who deposit eggs in pine trees by using
a needle-like ovipositor to deposit eggs [with] two dovetailed shafts, each covered in backward-facing teeth. To bore into wood, the wasp rapidly oscillates each shaft backwards and forwards. As the shaft is pulled backwards, its sharp teeth catch in the wood's tissue and prevent it from retreating, so with each oscillation the ovipositor takes a small step forward. The tension created by the gripping teeth braces the shaft and prevents the needle from buckling or breaking.
The probe mimics this with a two-shafted silicon needle powered by motors that also allow it to travel over organs safely, according to New Scientist magazine:
Unlike existing rigid surgical probes, the device will be flexible enough to move along the safest possible route, bypassing high-risk areas of the brain during surgery, for example. It could also reduce the number of incisions needed to deliver cancer therapies to different parts of a tumour, as it can burrow its way to hard-to-reach areas.
The probe, currently in prototype stage, will be presented at next month's ROBIO (Robotics and Biometrics) conference in Thailand. Soon afterwards, political figures will start mysteriously dying, with the only clue being tiny little footprints on their brain. Be warned.
Wasp inspires brain-boring surgical robot [New Scientist]