A new robot with caterpillar-like legs could one day be used to deliver drugs around the human body, say scientists.
The tiny device can carry weights much heavier than its own mass and climb obstacles 10 times higher than itself, they claim.
It was developed at City University of Hong Kong and experts are now working on a biodegradable version to use in the human body. They also want to look at using different-shaped robots.
The technology has magnetic particles that enable it to be remotely-controlled by applying electromagnetic force.
“The amazingly strong carrying capability, efficient locomotion and excellent obstacle-crossing ability make the milli-robot extremely suitable for applications in a harsh environment, such as delivering a drug to a designated spot through the digestive system, or carrying out a medical inspection,” said Dr Shen Yajing, assistant professor at the university’s department of biomedical engineering.
The robot’s ability to carry heavy weights relative to its size and climb obstacles make it suitable for carrying drugs through blood or mucus, the university's press release added.
“The rugged surface and changing texture of different tissues in the human body make transportation challenging,” said Professor Wang Zuankai, who works at the university’s department of mechanical engineering.
“Our multi-legged robot shows an impressive performance in various terrains and thus has great potential for drug delivery in the body.”