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Biotech Medicine Robotics

Robot Invented To Crawl Through Veins 99

Posted by timothy
from the oh-no-not-creepy dept.
Slatterz writes "Scientists from Israel's Technion University have unveiled a tiny robot, made using Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, purportedly able to crawl through a person's veins in order to diagnose and potentially treat artery blockage and cancer. The little robot — with a diameter of just one millimeter — has neither engine nor onboard controls, instead being propelled forward by a magnetic field wielded on it from outside the patient's body."
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Robot Invented To Crawl Through Veins

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  • Robotic aneurysm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028)
    I for one welcome our miniature robotic clots!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      Not offtopic. The blurb article mentions only that it would be magnetically controlled. Maybe that's their entire plan for keeping it from clogging the tubes (blood, not the internet). It very much seems like it could cause aneurysms, clots, strokes, heart attacks, and whatever it was Tony Stark had in the recent Iron Man movie.

      I am not a doctor, nor do I play one in comic books.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JordanL (886154)
      Anyone remember "Inner Space"?

      Heh... couldn't help but think of that movie while reading.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:49PM (#28602281)

    has neither engine nor onboard controls

    Doesn't a robot traditionally have to have some form of self controlled motion? From the description, this is just a human etch-a-sketch.

    For what it's worth, I've also created the robotic sport of the future. It consists of a round, air filled bladder. This robot has no motor control of its own but it can be moved by applying forces with your foot. I intend to patent this and make a fortune. No one will play regular soccer once they can play robo-soccer.

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      From the crappy article its hard to tell..

    • by russotto (537200)
      So it's a waldo. Picky, picky.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Small piece of spiky metal" more accurately describes it. From the (admittedly vague) article, there's no mention of any powered equipment actually on the 'robot'. It seems to work like a grass seed - backwards pointing hairs plus contact with something firm yet pliable plus vibration equals forward movement.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    there will be a number of robot jokes being made from this point forward, all in the same vein.
  • by plasmidmap (1435389) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:55PM (#28602339)

    Resistance is futile.

  • Arteries and Veins (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PleaseFearMe (1549865) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:57PM (#28602351)

    The summary confused me, so I looked it up, and it is true. Veins bring blood towards the heart. Arteries bring blood away from the heart. I always thought blood flows pretty fast, so the robot would need quite a bit of magnetic force to go against the blood friction. If it finds a clot, can it ram its way through like a battering ram? That would be cool.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jamesh (87723)

      If it finds a clot, can it ram its way through like a battering ram? That would be cool.

      You know what would be cooler? Tiny little sharks with tiny little fricken lasers.

    • The summary confused me, so I looked it up, and it is true. Veins bring blood towards the heart. Arteries bring blood away from the heart.

      Your post confused me. The "bring blood away" construct is an oxymoron at best, or a dangerous medical condition at worst.

      Carry on.

    • by vrmlguy (120854)

      The summary confused me, so I looked it up, and it is true. Veins bring blood towards the heart. Arteries bring blood away from the heart.

      Arterial blood is under high variable pressure due to the beating of the heart. If you get a cut in one, the blook escapes so fast it can't clot. Veins, on the other hand, have low constant pressure. If you get a cut, it scabs over and heals. Thus, veins run just under the skin, and arteries are located deep in your body, meaning that injecting something into a vein is both safer and easier that injecting it into an artery. Given those facts, I'd guess that the device is inserted into a vein and then g

  • WTF (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So this has all the functionality of a 1mm steel ball bearing.
    What will they think of next?

  • Shoot, they could even shrink themselves and travel through the body in their tiny shuttle.
    • by vrmlguy (120854)

      Shoot, they could even shrink themselves and travel through the body in their tiny shuttle.

      Yeah, but did they have Raquel Welch [google.com] with them?

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      I suuuure hope you're joking. "Fantastic Voyage" did it more than 20 years before that.

      • by kbrasee (1379057)
        Not joking. Fantastic Voyage was so ridiculously unrealistic and over-the-top I couldn't stand it. Muppet Babies, on the other hand, got everything right, and did it with flair that not even Raquel Welch could match.
  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday July 06, 2009 @09:09PM (#28602461) Journal
    How does a robot moving though one's vein "diagnose and potentially treat artery blockage"? Wouldn't it need to be traveling though the arteries to do that?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @09:34PM (#28602623)

    the magic school bus!

    • by kbrasee (1379057)
      Bah, Magic School Bus just stole that episode from Muppet Babies, almost line-for-line. It made me disgusted with humanity, and for a short time, physically ill.
    • by mcgrew (92797)

      God, I haven't seen that since my kids were little. Patty? Is that you?

  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @09:50PM (#28602729) Homepage

    All the fun of meth with none of the side effects! Great!

    no... wait...

    It's the other way around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      All the fun of meth with none of the side effects! Great!
      no... wait...
      It's the other way around.

      All the fun of side effects with none of the meth?
      That sounds terrible!

  • .... but you don't want to see how they take it out.
  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:43PM (#28603161)

    Interventional cardiologists and other physician specialties already use a veritable swiss army knife of tools on catheter tips. You already can feed all sorts of balloons and stents and scrapers and other tools into the body by pushing them into place with a catheter. This "robot" is moved around with a magnetic field rather than a plastic filament.

    I wonder what new techniques and procedures this will make possible...and if the incremental improvement in outcomes will actually extend lifespans any...

  • oh what fun (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:00PM (#28603315) Homepage Journal

    They do something wrong with the magnetic field for a second, lose track of it, it gets carried to your brain and you stroke.

    Not realistic? Well, when you've had a catheter yanked out of you without having had the balloon deflated first like I once did because the nurse fucked up, you'll learn to expect these things. A golf-ball sized object pulled through your urethra tends to leave a memory.

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <`samwyse' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:03PM (#28603333) Homepage Journal

    So how is this different from this [stereotaxis.com]? Oh, yeah, there's no way to retrieve the robot if it gets stuck.

  • Just in time for our robotic fighter of fat clogged arteries, McDonalds is now rolling out a collection of 1/3 pound burgers to compete with the likes of Hardees. McDonalds may have well made the best fast food mushroom and swiss burger of all time. Now if only I could get a 44oz soda with that!

    Robot, save me!

  • Malfunctions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by srothroc (733160) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:42AM (#28604035) Homepage
    I hope it doesn't malfunction and get stuck or something. All you need in that situation is a nice mechanical clot...
  • Didn't Wesley Crusher already invent this?
  • Since we've been dreaming of medical Nanorobots since Rachel Welsh got my (grand)dad hot in Fantastic Voyage. The above robot is hardly the first, nor likely the robot to get into common use. This a by now a small industry on Medical Nanorobots and on how to control or use them, for instance this this paper on Medical Nano Robot [foresight.org] Control from my Nanotech Feed [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com].
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Are you implying that when you watch fantastic voyage Raquel Welsh isn't hot? Are you gay?

  • Sweet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KWarp (1556259)
    Israel invents some pretty incredible stuff.
  • Why use a robot when you can use natural magnets!? Check out Stereotaxis. [stereotaxis.com] It's amazing what this company has pulled off in cath labs already.
  • This is a part. Like a lock-washer. I suspect it won't be used in robots, either, but rather will be moved by a person with a magnet.

    Everything gets called a robot, these days. If I buy my six year old nephew a crappy remote controlled car from Radio Shack, I can hand it to him and tell him it's a robot.

    He'll object, of course, since he's not stupid. I'll point to news stories about the stuff being used in Iraq and elsewhere and say, "see -- all remote control dohickies are robots."

    Just because he's not

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I blame robot wars.

    • Define robot then,
          This thing crawls using a marriage of mechanical and eletrical devices and detects its environment.

      I get that is isn't exactly Johhny 5, but the definition of robot is quite weak, and I doubt it completely excludes this from its set.

  • This would seem like one of those ideas that was great on the drawing board but horrible in real life. I just wait for the first doctor performing a surgery/procedure with this to say "Ah, hell, it just went into his brain". If they were to use these for clearing arteries (i.e. high pressure) it wouldn't take much of a disturbance in the controlling magnetic field for it to slip away into someone's brain. As for me, I'll stick with good old catheter operations (you know, if I ever have a heart condition)

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