- A team of researchers from MIT, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the University of Sheffield have demonstrated that their origami robot is able to unfold from a swallowed capsule, transverse a simulated stomach wall, and retrieve a swallowed button battery or patch a wound, according to a press release.
- The team designed the robot in a way to fit inside a capsule and then completely unfold. It has a magnet that responds to changing magnetic fields outside the body, which controls its movement.
- Since the stomach is a fluid environment, the robot's forward motion is obtained by thrust (propelling water) and 80% is by stick-slip motion, one of the researchers said in a statement.
The robot has potential to retrieve swallowed button batteries, of which there are a reported 3,500 a year in the U.S. Swallowed batteries can burn tissue if they have prolonged contact with esophageal or stomach tissue because the electric current produces hydroxide.
"It's really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to health care," Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said in a prepared statement."For applications inside the body, we need a small, controllable, untethered robot system."