By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Imagine very tiny semi-trucks traveling through your body to deliver medicine where it’s needed most. Pretty convenient right? Well, Chinese researchers have recently developed microbots (mini robots), that basically do just that! Mind you, they don’t have little wheels and some big tough driver steering it in the right direction, honking a big old horn on the freeway of your blood vessels, but they’re definitely smart little buggers.
Instead of a bearded trucker telling them where to go, they’re moved by electromagnetic fields (a blend of electricity and magnetism) that allows them to take precious medicine to sensitive places like brains and eyes. The microbots are covered in a coat of nickel, which is a type of metal that reacts to electromagnetism, and the tiny robots move forward on eensy-weensy motors.
These microbots come in a variety of shapes and sizes too, like spirals, cubes, and cylinders. Zhang Li, one of the project researchers, says that “a microbot is like a vehicle that ships drugs directly to the affected area. And I want to design a truck, not a car.” In other words, the bigger the microbot, the more medicine it can carry. While human experiments with the little bots are a long… long time away (like 10-20 years possibly), they’ve already been tested in rabbits and mice.
Featured image courtesy of Sangwon Kim, Famin Qiu, Samhwan Kim, Ali Ghanbari, Cheil Moon, Li Zhang, Bradley J. Nelson, and Hongsoo Choi and Advanced Materials. Video courtesy of TedMedLiveIsrael on YouTube.