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Oh Boy! A Millipede Robot in your Guts

There seems to be a large subset of robotic engineers who are really stoked on the idea of robotic bugs crawling around in people’s bodies. I mean, if it works, it works, great. But couldn’t they, I dunno, draw a little face on them? Anything to make them look more like cute robots and less like bugs before I put them inside myself.

City University of Hong Kong researchers have developed a new soft robot in the image of a millipede, aptly nicknamed the “milli-robot.” This hundred-legged wonder measures less than a single millimeter in length, but can carry and move up to 100 times its own weight. The robot is composed of a flexible silicon material with embedded magnetic particles. A scientist can move the robot remotely with just an electromagnetic controller. Through a combination of its many legs and tough material, this robot could theoretically navigate a human body’s many passages, all while carrying a medical capsule on its back for direct delivery to an afflicted area. That’s even more impressive when you remember that most of the body’s passages are coated in blood, mucus, and other icky fluids.

The research team is hoping to add additional features to this device in the near future, including less obtrusive shapes and biodegradability.