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Edible robots made from gelatin may soon get to work in your intestinal tract

Опубликовано : 1-09-2017, 16:06 | Категория: Technology news   

Robots can perform surgery, pacemakers can help regulate a person's heartbeat, and now the robots you eat can soon begin to crawl inside your intestinal tract, deliver medications or perform other duties.

Researchers from the Intelligent Systems laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland shared their new work this week with a tiny edible and digestible robotic gelatin drive. The research was carried out by graduate student Jun Shintake.

Drives are components in machines that are responsible for the movement. But unlike typical metal carpentry working on the engine, these edible gelatin drives are filled with air or liquid or react to chemicals that cause them to move.

By combining these drives with other advances in edible electronics - batteries that can safely pass through the digestive tract, or chips and cameras that are already on the market that can be swallowed, might one day be made for a fully edible robot, researchers from the EPFL told Recode .

These robots can be used to deliver drugs in the intestinal tract or to travel to provide stability where necessary, said Dario Floreano, a professor who oversees the laboratory of intelligent systems.

Edible drives, which their team came up with, have a length of three to five centimeters. Floreano said in an interview that two of these executive mechanisms can create a grip.

Gelatin makes sense for the material in the edible robotic part, said Christopher Bettinger, professor of biomedical engineering and materials science at Carnegie Mellon, said Recode, because gelatin is already safely used as an outer layer in the medicine capsules available through the counter.

"This soft pneumatic approach is really cool, because when you think about your gastrointestinal tract and tissues, they are also soft, soft and obedient, and there is a lot of gas," said Bettinger, who heads a research group at the CMU who invented an edible a battery made from melanin last year.

According to Floreano, the edible gelatin-performer does not have any electronics in it and is fully absorbed. This is different from other edible electronic components, such as the battery from Carnegie Melon, which is swallowed, but eventually exits the human system.

Inhaled electronics that are already on the market include tablets with swallowing gauges on them that can track patient compliance, as well as a camera that is small enough to swallow to record activity in the human digestive tract to help diagnose problems such as bleeding that the areas can not detect.

"The wind in the sails, which take up [something in the edible electronics] forward, first identifies the exact problem and develops solutions to solve this problem," Bettinger said. "So maybe there is a part, but it's up to the private sector to synthesize them to actually create products."

Researchers at the EPFL say that they also cooperate with École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, widely considered one of the best hospitality schools in the world, for the production of various types of nutrients that can be swallowed and robotized.

The gelatin-based drive is still at the earliest stage of development, says Floreano, who heads the EPFL laboratory, but the team has been working on the project for about a year.
from: recode.net

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