Non-invasive procedures for medical treatment have come a long way in the past decade. One of the major frontrunners are millirobots.
The possibilities are endless. It can revolutionize the way doctors diagnose a patient. Instead of running a multitude of tests, a simple introduction of millirobots can scan everything from blood pressure to artery blockages and even the amount of trauma, with the data provided in real time. Millirobots can turn even the most difficult of procedures into noninvasive ones.
With the innovations we’re seeing, it’s entirely possible that within this century, the mere act of cutting someone open will be rendered outdated.
One idea that’s already taken its first, very firm steps is that of Aaron Becker of the University of Houston and collaborators Ouajdi Felfoul and Pierre E. Dupont, both of Harvard Medical School.
They are proposing the use of millirobots that are controlled by an MRI’s magnetic potential energy. Essentially, once introduced into the patient’s body, these robots will assemble into a gauss gun – which is a kind of projectile accelerator – that can then be used to unblock clogged arteries, deliver medicine, and even perform surgery. Using an MRI, doctors can steer the robots into any direction without losing visuals, allowing for a higher degree of control.
Though the study has yet to be optimized – at the moment it is not yet functional in the human bloodstream – it has already proven to work in plastic fluid-filled containers where the researchers were able to navigate prototypes using a standard MRI scanner’s magnetic field. Now the next step is to miniaturize the prototypes and optimize the materials to be used in making the millirobots.