Future talk: robot takes medicine to the exact place in the body

Millirobot 1

Can you imagine that in the future it might be possible to take medicine to the exact right place in the body, transported by a 4-millimeter magnetically controlled soft robot?

Metin Sitti, Director of the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and his team of scientists form the developed a miniscule, flexible robot that is able to master various forms of movement. One day, this small-scale robot may enable targeted drug delivery or minimally invasive surgery, the researchers hope.

The robot can perform various movements due to the fact that the scientists included magnetic micro-particles in its soft rubber body. This way the researchers can operate and control it using an external magnetic field. When varying the direction and strength, they deform the millirobot in various ways.

It can walk or roll across surfaces, jump across obstacles, crawl through narrow tubes and even swim on or in liquids. To make it complete, it can grasp objects, transport them and finally deposit them at defined locations.



It has been tested in a synthetic surgical stomach model and in chicken meat tissue. The results were very satisfying. But there are numerous challenges that need to be overcome until it can be used on actual human being. Such as: it needs to prove that it can be controlled while being within the human body. Its multiple locomotion capability in complex environments is so unique that science journal Nature published the researchers´ findings in its February 2018 edition.

invented a magnetically controlled soft robot only four millimeters in size, that can walk, crawl or roll through uneven terrain, carry cargo, climb onto the water surface, and even swim in it. The inspiration comes from soft-bodied beetle larvae and caterpillars, and even jellyfishes posed as biological models.

Millirobot 2


Can you imagine that in the future it might be possible to get medicine to the exact right place in the body? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment.

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Kim Peters

How do you think about developments like the Millirobot.