Researchers from Pontedera, Italy and Seoul, Korea, are developing a prototype capsule designed to crawl though a patient’s stomach, enabling doctors to view and even treat an internal ailment remotely.
Once swallowed the multi-legged capsule protective coating dissolves and locomotion would begin.
The scientists are testing prototype through animal stomach tissue and have also developed a system for controlling the leg movement. Each leg is made from a shape memory alloy, which �remembers� its original shape and reverts back to it each time a step is taken.
The legs can scrabble across intestinal tissue without causing damage.
The prototype capsule is 25 millimetres long and 10 mm in diameter � a little larger than an endoscope. But they are working on further miniaturisation.
However, they still don’t know how to control the capsule. A possibility would be to equip the capsule with tools that will allow it to perform simple surgical procedures. “Effectively we would like to enable the doctor to become very small,” says Paolo Dario who leads the team.