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Medical milli-robots have potential to make science fiction reality, even if not imminently

* Medibots.jpgIn rare instances, the impressiveness of an innovation or technology needs no imminent application to justify its inherent impressiveness.

That is the case when it comes to millimeter-scale robots, or milli-robots, that have proven capable of using an MRI-provided magnetic field to move through the human body.

The technology, more specifically known as magnetic hammer actuation, is cased inside of a bullet-shaped millirobot, and thus far has been tested on the internal tissues of lambs and goats.

Though potential applications have been given, including 'highly localized drug delivery' and minimally invasive surgery, such applications do not lie in the immediate future. That does not make the technology any less impressive or potentially useful, even if it will take a significant amount of time for clinical use.

The millirobots created by a Houston-based team are akin to 'magnetic hammers' that can be pushed and pulled through crevices in the body with assistance from the magnetic field. A bead made of stainless steel is pulled in one direction by the field, compressing a spring that pushes the transparent acrylic body forward when released.

6th February 2018

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