The ViRob prototype
The Israeli Institute of Technology has created a miniature crawling robot small enough to crawl through human veins.
The robot has been developed to perform precise medical procedures in the human body to potentially diagnose and treat artery blockage and cancer.
Researchers at the Technicon institute have so far developed a basic prototype of the ViRob, which is just 1mm wide and 12mm long but is able to move as fast as 9mm per second.
They are examining the possibility of using the robot as a treatment for lung cancer by using it to assist targeted drug delivery to lung tumours and for taking different samples from parts of the body.
Professor Moshe Shoham, leader of the Technicon researchers and head of the Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory at the institute, said: “This robot is a breakthrough in the biomedical industry, as it allows doctors to access inaccessible areas in the body with minimal invasion.
“The technology enables targeted treatment without scattering materials to unnecessary areas in the body.”
The ViRob has tiny arms that allow it to stabilise against blood pressure and allow it to crawl through the inner walls of blood vessels, the digestive tract and the respiratory to the veins and then arteries.
It is powered by an external magnetic field, which allows it to be controlled for long periods of time during procedures.
The researchers are now planning to install additional equipment on the robot such as electrodes and miniature drug capsules to treat a number of diseases.