AI News, Magnetic Control Could Help Robots Navigate Inside Your Body

Magnetic Control Could Help Robots Navigate Inside Your Body

There are two options for controlling a robot inside of the human body: Either you try and build some sort of intricate and tiny robot submarine with self contained propulsion and navigation, which would be really really hard to do, or you just make the robot with a tiny bit of something that responds to magnetic fields, and control it externally with some big magnets.

Realistically, if you’re using something like a clinical MRI scanner to create a magnetic field, whatever gradient you give the field will affect everything inside of the MRI, whether you’ve got one single microbot or a vast swarm of them.

In a paper published today in Science Robotics, researchers from Philips, in Hamburg, Germany,describe a technique that can use magnetic fields to selectively actuate individual microbots, or individual components of a robot, even if they’re all made of the same stuff and located within the same field.

Here’s how it works: The global magnetic field inside of the device has a hole in it, called a free field point (FFP), where multiple magnetic fields (each generated by a separate coil) meet up.

The researchers suggest a whole bunch of different ways in which this technique could be of practical, immediate use: One class of applications is based on mechanisms driven by several screws that are controlled individually.