Not everyone realizes this, but doctors really don’t like opening people up to fix them. Performing surgery is a case where the cure can be worse than the disease, with high risk of infection and other problems, which is why doctors would rather use light-reactive balloons and only break out the scalpels and bone saws in drastic situations. It’s also why a doctor will, in the near future, force patients to gulp down a robot made of meat and magnets, which we’re going to call Meatbot.
If that sounds disgusting, don’t worry! It totally is! Engineers at MIT’s Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Laboratory designed Meatbot as a simple surgical tool. Made from a carefully folded piece of dried pig intestine, the patient swallows it and when it hits the stomach, it unfolds. Doctors can then use magnets to guide it into place. Believe it or not, this has a specific job, right now, which is finding batteries people have swallowed, and guiding them to the colon for, uh, “removal.” Why, precisely, people swallow batteries is a question Meatbot isn’t equipped to answer.
Meatbot is just a prototype right now, but there are potentially thousands of uses for it. It could be everything from an internal bandage to help prevent bleeding to a medical delivery system. Of course, there are plenty of obstacles to get around, like the fact that vegetarians and members of certain religions can’t accept Meatbot. But we’re sure a Tofubot is just around the corner.
(Via The Verge)