May 14, 2016

"...small robotic devices could one day be used to retrieve swallowed objects, including batteries."

Washington Post: Though the new robot wouldn’t be able to perform major esophageal surgeries, it could, possibly, patch smaller wounds in the stomach. By Ben Guarino

'The only thing a patient would have to do, in theory, is swallow — a bit like gulping down a spider to catch a wayward fly.

'In a proof-of-concept experiment demonstrated at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, the small device folds into an ice capsule about the size of a gummy bear. When the ice thaws inside the body, the robot unfurls as though it were a piece of origami filmed in reverse. Once flattened, the origami robot wriggles around the stomach, controlled by human operators using an external magnetic field. This is not the first device to borrow properties from origami, now a popular source of inspiration for engineers.

'“For applications inside the body, we need a small, controllable, untethered robot system,” said Daniela Rus, an electrical engineer at MIT who helped create the origami robot, in a press release. “It’s really difficult to control and place a robot inside the body if the robot is attached to a tether.”'

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