Micro-robots being developed in laboratories around the world could herald a new frontier in medical science by replacing costly, invasive and often complicated surgeries and optimizing medicine.
These miniature robo-docs, once inserted into the body, are capable of delivering drugs to the required specific location, or performing precise localized operations, such as clearing-up clogged arteries.
Scientists in the vanguard of such research are aiming to develop a simple, cost-effective and versatile method for building complex, reconfigurable bio-inspired robots. For instance, a robot that looks like a bacterium and moves by wiggling its tail-like flagellum is currently under development in Switzerland. Unlike conventional robots, these motor-less micro-robots are made of soft and flexible biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles. This allows them to change shape when heated and move in specific directions when an electromagnetic field is applied.
The researchers said their new production method lets them test an array of shapes and combinations to obtain the best motion capability for a given task. They added that their research also provided valuable insight into how bacteria move inside the human body and adapt to changes in their microenvironment.