Scientists have invented a new miniature robot that could potentially save your life by treating artery blockage and cancer roaming around inside your veins and arteries, guided by magnetic fields.
The MEMS robot, built by scientists from Israel's Technion University, has a one millimeter diameter and no on-board engine or controls; instead, it is guided using magnetic fields operated by scientists externally. Using arms that grip onto artery walls, it can crawl at a speed up to nine millimeters a second through the body, its creators say. They're currently planning to add some new features to aid in its life-saving potential:
A small cross sectional area on the tiny robot apparently allows fluids to flow with minimal interference making intra-vascular motion more feasible, and opening up the possibility of minimally invasive medical treatments, as well as diagnosis within the body. Researchers are also apparently toying with the idea of attaching miniscule cameras to the bot, as well as other "tools" it may need to perform internal surgery.
If something goes wrong with the robot in practice, Technion University scientists have already lined up a secondary market; they're looking at adapting it for use in urban water distribution systems to look out for and repair leaks.
Robot invented to crawl through veins [The Inquirer.net]