If Daniela Rus has things her way, people will soon be able to simply take a pill instead of having invasive surgery. The director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and her team are responsible for creating a new innovative pill robot, which could eventually led to less slicing and dicing of patients during surgery.
According to Bloomberg, Rus’ latest creation is a small robot squeezed into a pill, which “unfolds like an origami after it’s swallowed.” Swallowing the robot pill would allow medical circumstances that usually require surgery to get handled from the inside out, which would lead to less cutting during invasive surgery.
“The idea that you could repair a human body by swallowing something, instead of making cuts, is amazing,” Rus said.
With the use of a tiny magnet, the pill robot can be guided to remove foreign objects from the stomach or treat wounds by administering medication from the inside of a person’s body after the pill robot has been ingested. Doctors can use a magnetic field near a patient, which would help them steer the pill robot through the body to the area that requires treatment.
Aftercare for the pill robot seems fairly simple. The biodegradable robot is capable of being digested and broken down in the stomach similar to food.
While Rus wouldn’t say how much funding for continued research and development would cost to get the robot pill approved and in the hands of qualified surgeons, the components needed to create the pill robot cost less than $100. However, the equipment needed to manipulate the robot is on the more expensive end.
Rus and her team have had successful trails with the pill robot by using a silicon-molded prototype stomach. The scientist are currently awaiting approval from MIT’s animal care committee with hopes to start testing the pill robot out in pigs.
Rus’ is responsible for several interesting projects involving robots, from Bakebots that act as chefs in the kitchen to Quadrotors that help marine biologist monitor whale life without disturbing their habitat.