Tiny robot caterpillar designed to walk through body delivering drugs

The little caterpillar is just 1mm long
The little caterpillar is just 1mm long

A tiny robot caterpillar which can walk through the body delivering drugs has been designed by scientists.

The little silicon robot has hundreds of legs which are just 1mm long and is embedded with magnetic particles so it can be guided to a specific site using an electromagnet.

The robot legs are able to move along even slippery surfaces within the body which are lined in fluids like blood or mucus.

The robot, which was unveiled in the journal Nature Communications, is being developed by City University of Hong Kong who took inspiration from nature.

The little caterpillar is just 1mm long
The little caterpillar is just 1mm long

Professor Wang Zuankai, at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: "The rugged surface and changing texture of different tissues inside the human body make transportation challenging.

“Our multi-legged robot shows an impressive performance in various terrains and hence open wide applications for drug delivery inside the body."

The research team also showed proved that when facing an obstacle ten times higher than its leg length, the robot,can lift up one end of its body to form an angle of up to 90-degrees and cross the obstacle easily.

It can also carry a load 100 times heavier than itself, and can increase its speed by increasing the electromagnetic frequency applied.

“The amazingly strong carrying capability, efficient locomotion and good obstacle-crossing ability make this milli-robot extremely suitable for applications in a harsh environment, for example delivering a drug to a designated spot through the digestive system, or carrying out medical inspection,” said Dr Shen Yajing, who led the research.

“We are hoping to create a biodegradable robot in the next two to three years so it will decompose naturally after its meds delivery mission.”