A tiny sliver of elastic material swims along inside a narrow tube, coiling up and changing shape in response to the thickness of fluid and the contours of the tube around it as it moves towards its goal.
The miniature robot – the bacteria-inspired brainchild of a team of scientists in Switzerland seeking new methods to deliver drugs to diseased tissue – is designed to wend its way through blood vessels and other systems in the body.
The team is led by Selman Sakar at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Bradley Nelson at ETH Zurich, two leading science and technology research institutes.
“Nature has evolved a multitude of micro-organisms that change shape as their environmental conditions change. This basic principle inspired our microrobot design,” Nelson said.