In the future, robots are going to be everywhere–even inside our bodies. Several research groups are working on tiny “nanobots” that would float in our dark spaces, performing medical functions like detecting diseases and killing cancerous cells.
One example is a new scallop-shaped machine developed by the Max Planck Institute, in Germany. It moves around by opening and closing two shells, powered by a magnet outside the body. In the future, it could be used to send medicine to a particular area, offering an alternative to treatments that fight diseases more indiscriminately.
As explained by Phys.org, the difficulty for researchers in building tiny, body-surfing robots has been dealing with the relatively high viscosity of liquids inside the human system. Many types of mechanical motion don’t work. Plus, putting a motor inside a bot could make it too big for its function. The scallop device is 800 microns wide and 300 microns thick (a human hair is about 75 microns across) and has no power of its own. It’s small enough to go inside the blood vessels and even eyeballs.
The research is reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications.
Meanwhile, others researchers are working on body bots shaped like cages and microscopic corkscrews. And Google wants to develop body nanoparticles that patrol the body for signs of cancer and disease.
In the future, we won’t just take pills and injections to cure disease. We’ll submit to tiny machines. Robots really are taking over.