Scientists finish world’s smallest remote-control robot

Tech

(NewsNation) —The world’s tiniest remote-controlled robot now exists thanks to two professors at Northwestern University. It is not a toy, however, but a robot that may be able to enter your body and save your life.

Just half of a millimeter wide, the crab-like robot can be used to access some of the most difficult places to reach in the human body.

Northwestern biomedical engineering professor John Rogers led the research into this breakthrough creation and said on “NewsNation Prime” the vision for this robot is in the medical space, particularly minimally invasive surgeries.

“Going beyond what’s possible today, having these small robots move through arteries and veins, maybe disrupting plaques that are causing clogging, for example,” Rogers said. “Using them to perform biopsies or remove malignant tissue associated with a tumor.”

He said this effort is “a little more open-ended,” however, than serving a particular medical need, and the real benefit the project provided was helping to build the capacity for learning how to build these very tiny robots.

“We now know how to build them, we know how to actuate them, we kind of have artificial muscles,” Rogers said. “I think it’s a first step in this direction of kind of minimally invasive surgeries that might be possible in the future.”

This could be a game-changer for the medical field, at least that is the hope, Rogers said. But this robot is still in its “early days” of making it to the mainstream.

“I think we’ve made some real progress here,” Rogers said. “There’s a broader community of researchers working on micro-robots, thinking about medical applications, and I think what we’ve done has contributed to the basic capabilities that people will draw upon over time to hopefully realize this vision.”

The robots can be moved around but cannot execute tasks at this point, Rogers said. They have little pincers capable of performing tasks, but remote control of those pincers has not yet been achieved.

“We can make them move, but now we need to make them do something,” Rogers said. “It will be a development process but we’re pretty excited about it.”

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