Swiss and British researchers report in the American journal science advances that they have developed a flexible micro-robot.
"Like a living microbe," the robot can "swim" in viscous or fast-flowing liquids and could one day deliver drugs to targeted tissues in the body.
Bradley neilsson, the corresponding author of the paper and from the federal polytechnic university in Zurich, Switzerland, said they were inspired to develop the robot by the fact that nature is full of microbes that change shape with their environment.
The robot, developed by researchers at the federal polytechnic university of Zurich in Switzerland, the federal polytechnic university in lausanne and the university of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, is made of a gelatin-like nanocomposite material.
The robot will be able to move through viscous or fast-flowing liquids without causing the body to reject it.
Its speed, direction, and controllability are unaffected as it passes through a system that is tortuous, like a narrow blood vessel.
The robot is about 1mm in length and could be even smaller with other technologies, selman sarkar of the ecole polytechnique federale DE lausanne, who was involved in the research, told xinhua.
The robot is inexpensive and the team is working to improve its performance in body fluids, the researchers said.