Currently, certain robots specializing in surgery and laparoscopy allow minimally invasive procedures to be performed, with the effect of reducing patient recovery times.
Unfortunately, however small the tools of these robots are, it is still complex for them to operate in very confined spaces. This is why researchers are looking at flexible robotics, an area in which robotic tools are flexible to better adapt to human bodies.
Researchers are currently developing what they present as flexible robotic hands capable of helping in surgical procedures and even of delivering drug molecules in a very targeted manner.
These hands take the form of six-pointed stars barely a few millimeters in diameter when opened. Each of the branches can fold back towards the center to hold molecules before going to deliver them or to grip the tissues. It is the ambient temperature that triggers the opening or closing of the star, with a hinge temperature set at 36 ° C.
Future versions may be configured to respond to an order at different temperatures. Since these hands do not integrate any battery or any harmful component, they can be deployed anywhere in the human body without any risk.
They are composed of hydrogel mixed with a biodegradable polymer which gives it a certain resistance. Left in the human body, they are gradually absorbed by the tissues.
Regarding the way these stars are controlled, their hydrogel is made up of iron oxide nanoparticles, which makes them sensitive to magnetic fields.
Their main use could be in performing minimally invasive biopsies, the strength of these robotic hands being sufficient to tear off a few cells from human tissue. They could also be used to attack cancer cells and move them to evacuate them without using a traditional incision.