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Medicine Biotech Input Devices Robotics

Ingestible Medical Robots Could Remove Batteries From Stomachs (washingtonpost.com) 65

"A child swallows a battery every 3 hours," reports a new article in the Washington Post. But now, gurps_npc writes: MIT has developed a small ingestible robot to remove watch batteries that kids swallow. It starts out folded up tight and surrounded by an ice sheath. You swallow it, the ice melts, and it unfolds. Then a doctor uses magnets to direct it to the battery, it wraps itself around the battery, preventing it from leaking acid until you pass it — perhaps a bit faster with the doctor using the magnets to guide it down through your system.
Interestingly, the MIT researchers built their proof-of-concept robot using a durable pork casing -- "the same stuff you might find surrounding a hot dog or kielbasa."
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Ingestible Medical Robots Could Remove Batteries From Stomachs

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  • by hughbar ( 579555 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @11:42AM (#52111521) Homepage
    You know how this ends. The little robot swallows the battery but gets a bit lost. Then another robot-seeking-swallowing-robot is prescribed. Then...
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @11:57AM (#52111573)

      The way this little robot is folded and then frozen in ice, reminds me of how the Inuit used to kill polar bears. They would take a long sliver of bone, sharpened on each end, bend it into a "U" shape, and freeze it in blubber. Then they would leave it on the ice pack where a bear would find it, and swallow it. The blubber would thaw in the bears stomach, the bone would straight out and puncture the stomach. The bear would die of internal bleeding.

  • This kid's parents seriously need to get a nanny.

    • Or stop buying watches that use batteries. Or just buy magnets and use them as a daily supository. I bet the later would make your suggestions or my first one a lot more probable.

  • "the MIT researchers built their proof-of-concept robot using a durable pork casing" That was smart of them to make it out of an inedible material.

    • My question is what happens when a little Jewish or Muslim kid swallows a battery? Pork casing indeed!

      Those damned anti-Semitic folks at MIT.
      • My question is what happens when a little Jewish or Muslim kid swallows a battery? Pork casing indeed!

        Those damned anti-Semitic folks at MIT.

        Obviously the survival of their children takes priority over their religious beliefs.

        Oh... wait...

  • The video shows the robot entering the stomach and grabbing the battery.... Well, THEN WHAT? There are two ways to leave, up or down.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      The video shows the robot entering the stomach and grabbing the battery.... Well, THEN WHAT? There are two ways to leave, up or down.

      Did you read the whole summary?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The video shows the robot entering the stomach and grabbing the battery.... Well, THEN WHAT? There are two ways to leave, up or down.

      The premium version of the robot gets in through your mouth and leaves through the way down. The cheaper version uses the same hardware, but follows the route the other way around.

    • DeWalt, Milwaukee, Makita, Hitachi, Ridgid, Ryobi, Craftsman, and Porter Cable all are working on getting their own versions of this product to market also. In each case the robot simply drills through the stomach and pops out where the belly button used to be. 3M and Loctite are working on something to patch things up after. Hope this helps. Have a Nice Day!
  • How fast is this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @12:41PM (#52111711)

    Steering little pouches around with external magnets while irradiating some poor kid with X-rays (so you can steer the 'robot') sounds time consuming. How does this compare (both in time and cost) with using a GI endoscope? Or just shoving a funnel and some syrup of ipecac down the kid's throat and having him vomit the battery back up?

    This sounds like an interesting but very special purpose procedure and equipment. Better care might be had using commonly available tools.

    • Steering little pouches around with external magnets while irradiating some poor kid with X-rays (so you can steer the 'robot')

      I'm guessing they would use ultrasound.

    • That's a very good question. An endoscope would have been my first thought as well. I'm not an expert, so I was wondering if the smaller esophagus of the infants who typically swallow batteries would make this more dangerous, but apparently that's not a problem [nih.gov].

      A gastroscopy can be performed on short notice at most hospitals, and doesn't even require the lengthy preparation you would want for a colonoscopy. My impression is that the current system is just a proof of concept, and the full system would be m

  • I'll bet that the same kid that had no problems eating the battery unprompted in the first place, will throw a tantrum when they try to make him swallow that robot-filled ice pill.

  • ...will develop an ingestible robot to remove the ingestible robot that MIT developed to remove batteries that kid swallow.
    • And Harvard will develop a robot to remove the robot that Stanford developed to remove the robot that MIT developed to remove the battery that kids swallow.

      And Oxford will develop a robot ....

      It'll be robots all the way down.

  • ...I'd say we're long past the point where we need to start STOP saving the babies that eat batteries. Maybe even make them MORE toxic?

    With 7 billion people, we can start losing the stupidest.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ironically, those tend to be the smartest babies and the ones who grow up to discover and invent stuff. It's called curiosity. Yeah, it doesn't manifest itself well at that age, but boy does it help later on.

      • I'm not really talking about the babies, it's not their fault; I'm talking about their procreators stupid enough to leave button batteries, etc where little children can get them (or leaving them unattended with electronics long enough to get the cover off and batteries out) and then leaving them unobserved long enough to eat the damn things.

        No slam on curiosity; slamming on parents incapable of some basic parental functions.

        • You aren't a parent are you?

          It is amazing how quick things like this happen, and you can't watch the child 24/7.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @09:20PM (#52113415) Homepage Journal

    Somebody should talk to that child's parents.

  • Can we please stop calling everything "robots"? For something to be a robot it has to be capable of some completely autonomous action. If the only action it can do by itself is "unfold once the ice melts" and then it has to be driven by outside magnets, it's not a robot, it's a remote controlled origami in ice at best.

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      ...it's a remote controlled origami in ice...

      You will come to regret those words...after the singularity.

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