Modern science never ceases to amaze with its achievements. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart has created a tiny soft metallic “robot” inspired by the pangolin’s ability to move smoothly and curl up into a ball. This device has the unique ability to move inside the human body to stop internal bleeding.
The design of the tiny millirobot is 2 cm (0.8 in) long and 1 cm (0.4 in) wide, based on overlapping scales that can move, roll and heat on demand. The robot has a soft polymer layer dotted with magnetic particles and a rigid top layer with overlapping “scales” of aluminum.
Researchers can manipulate the robot by exposing it to a low-frequency magnetic field so that it collapses and moves. The coiled device can transport particles, such as medicine, to the right place in the body. It can then be heated to over 70°C (158°F) when exposed to a high-frequency magnetic field. At this temperature, it can be used to treat internal bleeding, remove tumor tissue, and treat thrombosis.
This is not the first time scientists have turned to nature to create mini-robotics. Previously, devices inspired by the caterpillar and the lamprey have been created. What makes this robot special, however, is that it is flexible and soft, allowing it to move freely inside the human body.
In laboratory tests, the pangolin-like robot successfully moved through soft tissues without damaging them, and then stopped the flow of blood by covering bleeding areas and heating up. This holds great promise for complex internal therapies and procedures.
This robot could be a real breakthrough in medicine. It can help prevent many complications associated with internal bleeding and speed up the treatment process. It can also be used to remove tumor tissue and treat thrombosis.
Researchers continue to work on improving this robot and expanding its capabilities. They are confident that in the future, this device will become an integral part of medical practice and help save many lives.