Origami Robots That Could Perform Surgery

April 6, 2018

MIT News

Origami-inspired bots that can fold into a number of different shapes have been created, with the miniature bots having the potential to carry out different types of surgery – like patch wounds, remove objects and take samples.

Researchers from MIT, the University of Sheffield and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a new kind of origami robot that transforms into a microsurgeon inside your stomach. They squished the robot inside a pill, which the stomach acid dissolves. A magnet embedded in the middle allows you or a medical practitioner to control the microsurgeon from the outside using another magnet. It also picks up the battery or other objects stuck inside your stomach.

The team decided to focus on battery retrieval, because people swallow 3,500 button batteries in the US alone. While they can be digested normally, they sometimes burn people’s stomach and oesophagus linings. This robot can easily fish them out of one’s organs before that happens.

“It’s really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to health care,” Daniela Rus, who directs MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), said in a press release.

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