Life On Earth
Medical Lamprey-Bots In Development
It doesn't take a doctor to see how useful a tiny robot that could swim around inside the human body while streaming video and other data back to the operator would be to medicine. According to researchers backed by the American National Science Foundation and the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, that's not nearly as far off as it seems.
Meet Cyberplasm, a tiny robot based on a lamprey, that will serve just this purpose. A lamprey was chosen as the model because of its nervous system, which is easy to replicate electronically. What really sets Cyberplasm apart from just any plain robot is that it has visual and smell-based sensors consisting of animal cells, meaning that it can figure out where to go and go there all on its own. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without the capability to record data from its surroundings.
The researchers' goal is to make a Cyberplasm prototype that can swim around inside the human body and sniff out illnesses on its own. The projected timeframe is a mere 5 years. It's sure to make disease treatment a lot easier, but the very idea of having something swimming around inside us like we're Keanu Reeves in The Matrix will take some getting used to.
by Denis Ivanov.
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