I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we’re living in the age of technological development. It is during our lifetimes that we managed to develop a huge number of new and helpful tech and innovation, reaching levels never before thought possible. Not even the most creative science fiction writers could predict many of the inventions which nowadays seem common-place.
And despite the fact that this wave of innovation didn’t really stop at any particular field, all of them managing to develop at least a small amount of progress, robotics is one of the fields that advanced the most. But sometimes, two fields can work together perfectly, allowing for a collaboration of sciences that would only prove beneficial to the general populous.
So, an international team of researchers from MIT, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the University of Sheffield, developed an ingestible origami robot that saves lives. Well, it hasn’t saved any lives yet, since it’s still being tested, but once it is approved for general use, it will save countless people.
Primarily developed by Romanian-American MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director Daniela Rus, the origami robot will be able to recover any small metal items that happen to be swallowed, and the researchers claim that it will also be able to heal stomach and intestine injuries.
The main targets of the origami robot are button batteries. As many as 3,500 swallowed button batteries are reported in the U.S. every year, and while most are safely passed on, some of them start leaking and cause bleeding, tissue burns, and even death. The majority of these involve toddlers.
In order to be able to be controlled, the tiny origami robot has a magnet attacked. It is used to both control the robot’s movements and to retrieve any small metal item that happened to be ingested. It is made out of two layers of structural material that help maintain the robot’s shape, as well as from a layer of dried pig intestine (the same material that encases sausages).
This allows it to move in a manner similar to an inchworm, using what is known as a stick-slip motion. And because the robot is meant to be swallowed, it was also designed to swim. Its motion was predicted to consist of twenty percent propelling water and eighty percent the previously explained stick-slip inchworm motion.
In order to test how well the origami robot actually works, the international team of researchers placed it into a synthetic stomach made out of silicone rubber, modeled after a pig’s stomach, and filled with lemon juice and water to simulate stomach acids. The test was a total success, and the scientists are hoping to move forward with testing.
Image source: YouTube