New ‘slime robot’ has potential to search inside the human body

by mcardinal


A robot made of magnetic slime that can navigate narrow passages and grasp objects has been created by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Developers hope the robot could complete tasks like fixing broken circuits and even be deployed inside our bodies to retrieve objects swallowed by accident. Their work builds on existing research into robots that are capable of manipulating objects and fluid-based ones, combining both properties to create a ‘slime’ robot that could have important applications.

Professor Li Zhang and his colleagues created the unusual robot by mixing neodymium magnet particles with borax, a common household detergent, and polyvinyl alcohol, a kind of resin, to form a type of slime that can be controlled by its creators using an external magnetic field. The team also added a compound that coats the magnetic particles to make them non-toxic for within the human body.

The creators said that the material can also conducting electricity. While the robot shows much promise, it still needs to undergo more tests to ensure that it is safe for use inside the human body.

A video posted on Twitter by New Scientist, shows the fascinating robot at work:

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters (Additions for FISM News by Michael Cardinal)