Science and Tech


Researchers develop tiny robot that can travel through blood vessels

Researchers were able to inject the microbot into a blood vessel, navigate to an artery, deliver a dye, and return safely to the extraction point.
Animation shows red and white blood cells in a vein.
Posted at 4:08 PM, Mar 15, 2023

A team of researchers from South Korea have developed a miniature robot that can navigate through blood vessels and potentially help complete surgeries.

Researchers at Hanyang University successfully demonstrated an injectable microrobot that could travel to the artery of a pig using 3D x-ray imaging and an external magnetic field, deliver a dye, and return safely to the extraction point.

They published their results in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

The I-RAMAN (robotically assisted magnetic navigation system for endovascular intervention) is injected using a catheter and could help perform a variety of tasks, such as removing blood clots or delivering medicine to diseased areas.

However, the research team notes that the experiments in pigs have revealed ways the procedure can be improved.

"We were very confident of performing robotic endovascular intervention in the [artificial] blood vessel,” said Gunhee Jang, a Distinguished Professor at Hanyang University. “But during the in vivo experiment in a superficial femoral artery of the mini pig, we noticed that it is a quite different and difficult world."

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The  I-RAMAN is still in the early stages of development, but Jang's team plans to continue testing and improving their magnetic robot system before applying to begin clinical trials.

“Specifically, we will increase the magnetic field generated by the magnetic navigation system, and we plan to decrease the size of the microrobot and design it efficiently,” said Jang.