Tiny Robot Backflips through the Colon

A tiny rectangular robot developed at Purdue University  can travel throughout a colon to deliver drugs by doing back flips. The low-cost, magnetic microrobots are made of polymer and metal and are nontoxic and biocompatible. The robot could get a drug directly to its target site, without side effects like hair loss or stomach bleeding, that the drug may otherwise cause by interacting with other organs along the way. The researchers chose the colon for in vivo experiments because it has an easy point of entry and rough conditions that would prove its resilience. Since it is only the size of a few human hairs and too small to carry a battery, the microrobot is powered and wirelessly controlled from the outside by a magnetic field. “When we apply a rotating external magnetic field to these robots, they rotate just like a car tire would to go over rough terrain,” says researcher David Cappelleri.