Sunday, October 02, 2005

Robot Bug to Swallow

Pill-sized camera gets to grips with your gut
* news service
* Zeeya Merali

IT SOUNDS like the stuff of nightmares - a robot that crawls around inside your gut, anchoring itself by biting onto the walls of your intestine.

But the researchers behind a new take on the camera-in-a-pill claim its ability to move and stop on command will give doctors greater control over the images it takes, allowing them to focus on particular areas of concern.

Existing camera capsules designed to take images of the intestine cannot be controlled externally, so they simply drift through the gut along with everything else. "It's like watching the view from a train window," says the bot's developer, Arianna Menciassi of the Sant' Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy. "If you see something of interest, there's no way to turn back and get a better look."

The radio-controlled crawling capsule has six legs, each with tiny hooks on the end. These help prevent the device slipping on mucus in the intestine as it moves along, but are too small to damage the soft tissues, says Menciassi. The capsule can park at any site of interest by releasing a clamp with two 5-millimetre-long jaws, each with teeth. These grab onto the gut wall tightly enough to resist the muscular pulsations trying to push the device along.

New Scientist Breaking News - Pill-sized camera gets to grips with your gut

Other links...

Robot Worm for Colonoscopy

Robot Bug for Intenstines


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