Inner-Space Explorer: The Swallowable Robot
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August 19, 2008

Inner-Space Explorer: The Swallowable Robot

Olivemini On a list of things you wouldn't expect to be good for you, "Eating Robots" would be right at the top- but thanks to a group at the Carnegie Melon University (CMU) it might become part of your medical checkup.  The robotics group have built a tiny biocompatible camera-bot designed to get inside you and crawl around.  And in case you're not horrified enough yet, a critical part of the technology comes from emulating beetles and other creepy crawlies.

(Note: we at the Daily Galaxy not responsible for any psychotherapy bills resulting from reading this article. Image  left is for editorial "color" only, not consumption!).

The insect-emulation is part of how the minibot moves around inside your intestines.  The Inner Space Explorer has to be able to stay fixed or move around at different times: biological glues have a tendency to be permanent, while more traditional robotic methods of holding position (clamps, claws, hooks) aren't exactly compatible with human guts (except in the Hellraiser movies, and even then only briefly). Instead, the capsule-bot coats microscopic fibers with biocompatible oils, allowing it to smoothly move or wedge itself in place without damaging the host.  Well, not physically damage - we assume they're not talking about mental trauma.

At three by one centimeters this might seem like a bit of a big pill to swallow, especially when you consider they want to stick these bio-bug-bots in places near your heart, not just in your gut.  But as with all modern technology the first generation is by far the largest - it's only a matter of time before they have bots small enough to be left in any part of a patient with chronic problems.  Instead of calling in for an X-Ray your doctor can remotely check the area directly

Bonus: with only a modest amount of high explosive, the camera can be used to track rogue agents who've been given one more chance against the odds when the stakes are high.  For about ninety minutes.

Posted by Luke McKinney.

Swallowable Robot http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/21153/page1/

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Bleaah!


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