Scientists have developed miniature gelatinous robots that can crawl through the human body to deliver medicine or diagnose illnesses.
The “gelbot” is powered by little more than temperature changes, and its innovative design, which resembles an inchworm, is one of the most promising concepts in the field of soft robotics, according to Jill Rosen of John Hopkins University.
“It seems very simplistic, but this is an object moving without batteries, without wiring, without an external power supply of any kind—just on the swelling and shrinking of gel,” said David Gracias, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a senior project leader.
“Our study shows how the manipulation of shape, dimensions, and patterning of gels can tune morphology to embody a kind of intelligence for locomotion.”
The 3D-printed robot, which is made out of gelatin, is intended to replace pills or intravenous injections, which could cause problematic side effects.
The prototype was announced in the journal Science Robotics, on Dec. 14.