An MRI-Powered Robot Can Swim Through Your Guts

If you've ever had the pleasure of experiencing endoscopy, you'll think there must be a better way to check out your insides than having a camera shoved up your ass. Now there is, and it's robotic!

Let's get the best news over to you first: it's also small. Phew. In fact, the little robot, refereed to as a "microswimmer", is the size of a large pill. Developed by researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, the little guy is made of copper and flexible polymer.

When it's subjected to strong magnetic fields produced by MRI machines, the robot can be forced to vibrate in such a way that it can swim. It's still in development, but eventually it's hoped that it will also feature a camera, so it can beam images to outside the body to help with diagnoses.

It's the fact that it's powered by the large magnetic fields from the MRI machinate that is the smart part. It means that the robot doesn't have to have power supplies or propulsion systems attached to it — both of which would make it, umm, a harder piece of technology to swallow. [Biomedical Devices via SlashDot; Image: Focus Laser Vision]