If your kid has swallowed a battery or a marble, don’t panic—there’s a robot that can go in and find it.
Scientists have developed an ingestible origami robot that can crawl along a stomach wall, wrap itself around a button battery or another object that size, and remove it. It can even help heal wounds and deliver medicine inside the digestive system.
“It’s really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to health care,” said M.I.T. Professor Daniela Rus, who led the group of researchers from M.I.T., the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
The key to the new paper-like robot’s success is that it can be controlled by magnetic waves, without any kind of wire or tether going into the stomach. The bot can therefore be ingested by itself, encased in a piece of ice so it’s easier to swallow.
That’s good news for many toddlers, because over 3,500 single-cell batteries are swallowed every year—most of them by small children—and can cause burns in the stomach lining.