Health

Got stomach issues? Try swallowing an origami robot

ROBOT FEATURE

CAMBRIDGE, MASS: If you are a parent, you must have encountered instances when your child either had swallowed small objects, for instance, a small disc-shaped button battery. It’s a worrying situation.

But, a tiny robot made from pig gut soon could be able to capture it and expel.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are in the process creating an ingestible robot that could be used to patch wounds, deliver medicine or remove a foreign object.

They have named it an “origami robot” since the accordion-shaped device gets folded up and frozen into an ice capsule.

ROBOT POST 11

“You swallow the robot, and when it gets to your stomach the ice melts and the robot unfolds,” said Daniela Rus, a professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

“Then, we can direct it to a very precise location.”

It will take more time for the device to be deployed in a human or animal, but the researchers have been testing it in an artificial stomach.

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The robot’s flexible frame is biodegradable, made of the same dried pig intestine used for sausage casing. Embedded in its body – it would not be hard to make a kosher version, Rus said – is a neodymium magnet that looks like a tiny metal cube.

Magnetic forces control its movement and researchers use remote-control joysticks to change the magnetic field, allowing the robot to crawl through the stomach on the way to the targeted object.

But, would it hurt to ingest a robot? Probably not, said another research team member Steven Guitron.

I’m sure if you swallowed an ice cube accidently, it’s very similar,” he added.

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