Scientists Create Robots that Can Move Inside the Body

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. afflicted / əˈflɪktɪd / (adj) – suffering from illness or pain

    The scientists invented a new device that can spot afflicted organs in the body.

  2. outfit / ˈaʊtˌfɪt / (v) – to equip

    Engineers outfitted the device with sensors so that it can respond to human movements.

  3. mobility / moʊˈbɪləti / (n) – the ability to move or go somewhere

    The tech developers are improving the robot’s mobility by adding more features that will allow it to move.

  4. administer / ədˈmɪn.ə.stɚ / (v) – to give or apply something

    Doctors need special equipment to administer the medicine to the patient because the affected area is inside her body.

  5. set the stage for (something) / set the stage for (something) / (idiom) – to make something possible

    The new medical invention sets the stage for painless knee surgeries in the future.


Read the text below.

Scientists have developed robots that are designed to move inside the body.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and Federal Institute of Technology Zurich researchers engineered microscopic robots that are meant to deliver drugs to afflicted parts inside the body. These five-millimeter robots have the ability to alter their shape and size as they travel through the human body. As a result, the robots can smoothly move along dense liquids.

Because the robots are made of a gel that has heat-sensitive and electromagnetic properties, they can be controlled outside the human body. At the same time, the robots can move independently as they are outfitted with a tail that enables them to swim and follow the flow of fluids in the body.

To test the robots’ mobility, the researchers had the robots navigate their way through confined glass pathways that resemble human blood vessels. Inside the pathways, the robots moved through liquids that had different widths and flowed at varying speeds.

Results of the tests showed that the robots were indeed capable of traveling through the pathways. They were also able to modify their physical form depending on the environment.

Currently, the researchers are looking into possible improvements that will allow the robots to travel through various fluids in the body.

The researchers believe that these microscopic robots can change the way medical practitioners administer drugs. As the robots will be able to target specific areas in the body, this method of drug delivery can reduce side effects among patients. Additionally, this innovation is expected to set the stage for less invasive medical treatment.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think this technology will be popular in your country’s medical industry? Why or why not?
• If you were a medical practitioner, would you recommend this technology for human use? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think it is important to test new innovations?
• What measures should scientists/researchers implement to ensure that their innovations are safe for humans?