Miniature robot crawls through veins

14 July 2009

The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology has unveiled a miniature crawling robot (ViRob) that measures just 1 mm in diameter and 14 mm in length. The ViRob has the potential to perform precise medical procedures inside the human body in order to diagnose and potentially treat artery blockage and cancer.

The Technion researchers, led by Professor Moshe Shoham, Head of the Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory, have developed a basic prototype of the robot, which can move as fast as 9 mm per second.

Crawling robotUsing tiny arms which allow it to withstand blood pressure, it can crawl through the inner walls of blood vessels, the digestive tract and the respiratory system in order to progress through veins and arteries. The robot is powered by an external magnetic field allowing it to be controlled for an unlimited amount of time during medical procedures.

The team at the Technion is examining the possibility of using the ViRob as a treatment for lung cancer. ViRob could assist in targeted drug delivery to lung tumours as well as take samples from different areas within the body.

In addition, a number of these micro robots could simultaneously treat a variety of metastases. Researchers also plan to install additional equipment on the robot, including electrodes, miniature drug capsule and other miniature equipment.

Prof. Moshe Shoham said, “This robot is a breakthrough in the biomedical industry, as it allows doctors to access inaccessible areas in the body with minimal invasion. The technology enables a targeted treatment without scattering materials to unnecessary areas in the body."

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