Israeli scientists have come up with a robot to do one of the worst jobs we can think of first thing on a Monday morning.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston created a robot, which is the size of a large pill, that will be able to swim through the intestines.
According to Singularity Hub, the “microswimmer” gets its juice from the strong magnetic fields generated by an MRI machine. It has a tail measuring 20mm x 5mm made of copper and flexible polymer which vibrates and propels the microrobot sperm-like through the gut.
So far the researchers have got the microswimmer to work in a water tank, but ultimately they will want it to swim through something a little sticker.
The plan is that it will quickly explore the intestines, sending back pictures to diagnosticians, and helping detect the early stages of cancer.
It would replace endoscopy which is a fairly unpleasant and inaccurate way for inspecting the bowel. It involves inserting a camera into the colon to detect precancerous or cancerous growths.
While these have been getting less invasive lately with the development of a pill-sized camera which is swallowed and pictures taken every half second or so, a swallowed pill is essentially at the mercy of the movements of the intestine.
However, the microswimmer, which was developed by Gabor Kosa and Peter Jakab, can swim at speeds of several millimeters per second which is fast enough for this type of endoscopy.