It seems that science fiction movies have yet again been able to accurately predict the future. Back in 1987 Dennis Quaid starred in a film called Innerspace, where a man and his machine were shrunk down so much that they could then be injected into the blood stream of Martin Short. From there he could interact with the cells, nerves etc.
Whilst the movie may be just been a work of fiction at the time, just 35 years later a team of scientists in Israel have created a micro robot that is so small it can inspect individual cells to assess their health, as well as move cells to a different location by electro magnetic means. The scope for these micro robots is huge and this progress could be a game changer in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
“Developing the micro-robot’s ability to move autonomously was inspired by biological micro-swimmers like bacteria and sperm cells,” said Gilad Yossifon, biomedical engineering professor at Tel Aviv University. “This is an innovative area of research that is developing rapidly, with a wide variety of uses in fields such as medicine and the environment and as a research tool.”
“Our new development significantly advances the technology in two main aspects — hybrid propulsion and navigation by electric and magnetic mechanisms that are very different. In addition, the micro-robot has an improved ability to identify and capture a single cell for local testing or retrieval and transport to an external instrument.”
As well as being able to identify healthy and dying cells, the team is now looking to develop the micro robot so that it can also be used as an effective drug carrier that can precisely target specific areas of the body.
The merging of robot and animals has been experimented with in many ways over the years. Early in 2023 scientists managed to make a robot move using muscle cells taken from a mouse, laying the path for potential complex cyborg technology in the future.
Like a scene from Frankenstein, the experimental cyborg was created from a 3D printed skeleton, wireless LED control chip and lab grown mouse muscle cells, and maneuvered through a maze. The power to move the cells came from the use of light and heat on the LED controllers. “You can basically beam energy into the chip,” explained Mattia Gazzola, mechanical engineer at the University of Illinois, “so that means that you don’t need power onboard.”
Combine this with the recent explosion in AI development and biohybrid robots with their own intelligent neural network and internal self healing micro robots could possibly overtake the human race as the dominant species on planet Earth.