Robotics as a field has found a whole new way of interacting with the human body, through the development of Octobot, a one of a kind completely soft robot.
We call it a whole new way, because up until now, any and all robots that were developed specifically for the purpose of working with the human body, still relied on a hard structure to interact with their subjects.
These interactions ran through a whole spectrum of physical invasion, thanks to the degree of flexibility and motility they could achieve with their design.
The least invasive example of completely rigid robots can be seen in Emma, The Robotic Masseuse, who uses various sensors to calculate the perfect massage therapy for your body. It also is understandable the biggest in size.
As we move towards the middle end of the spectrum, we find ourselves with the Flex Robotic System, which while being big in size, still was able to offer a more in depth form of interaction, thanks to it’s small yet capable arms.
Finally, in the far end of the spectrum, we have Drug Delivering Micro Robots, which offer complete under the skin interaction thanks to their minute size.
Despite their differences in approach, what makes all these robots inferior than the Octobot is the fact that this robot doesn’t have a rigid structure at all.
It offers the same level of under the skin interaction as you would expect from any other robot, while still maintaining it’s size and abilities.
To make this possible, it’s creators at Harvard University used a composition of different materials to make it’s squishy body. This body was then embedded with a 3D printed network of electronics which give the robot it’s abilities.
To power this entire structure, the researchers then used a hydrogen peroxide based chemical reaction, which further enhanced the flexibility of the robot.
Between all these systems, the robot is able to achieve an unprecedented level of flexibility and softness which allows it to navigate through all sorts of openings inside the body.
As you can guess, a robot of this sort could prove extremely helpful in reducing the invasive nature of hundreds of medical procedures that are carried out on a daily basis all around the world.
Whether the patients would appreciate an alien create crawling inside them is a whole different topic, but still, the fact that something like this has been created is enough to give us an enticing glimpse into the future of medicine.