In the Marvel comics universe there is a character Venom,which is an alien being and has a sticky and almost liquid form. Chinese scientists led by Professor Li Zhang have created a robot similar to him and this, according to the creators, is not another April Fool's joke. The mucus developed by them moves with the help of magnets and in the future can be used in medicine to extract foreign objects from organisms. For example, if someone accidentally swallows a battery in the form of a pill, doctors can inject a robotic slug into their body and painlessly pull the dangerous object out of the gastrointestinal tract. At the moment, the robot looks very disgusting, which is why foreign publications even compare it with human feces. But in the future it will be possible to give it a more attractive look with the help of dyes. There are some doubts about the effectiveness of this mucus in the field of medicine, but nevertheless it is a very interesting project. So let's get acquainted with this "venom" in more detail.
Flexible robot in medicine
According to Chinese inventors, flexible robotmade from polyvinyl alcohol used in cleaning products. Particles of a neodymium magnet are introduced into this polymer, which is an alloy of the rare earth element neodymium, boron and iron. Professor Li Zhang compared building the robot to mixing corn starch with water at home. The result of mixing these two substances is a non-Newtonian fluid, the viscosity of which changes under the influence of a force.
When you touch it very quickly, it behaves like a solid body. When you gently and slowly touch it, it behaves like a liquid,” the scientist explained.
Magnetic slime in action
Under the influence of an external magnet, flexible robotcan take a variety of forms, move on any surface and penetrate even the narrowest places. Researchers are still studying the properties of the created material and hope that in the future it will be possible to make a full-fledged robot from it, which is suitable for use in medicine. To do this, scientists at least need to make it more autonomous, that is, able to work without the influence of external magnets.
The danger of magnets for the human body
However, at the moment, scientists are not ready totesting magnetic mucus in a medical setting. The fact is that the magnetic particles inside it are toxic to the human body. The flexible robot prototype has an unpleasant appearance due to the fact that it was covered with a layer of silica - so the researchers formed a hypothetical protective layer. In the future, the outer shell of the slime will be coated with a different material and, most likely, a dye that is pleasing to the eye. But even if there is a protective layer, it can harm human health if it stays inside the body for a long time. Therefore, if it is approved for use in medicine, operations to remove foreign objects from the body will take place as quickly as possible.
As you can understand, there will be a magnetic robotused in medicine or not, is currently unknown. Like all technologies used in medicine, it must be approved by regulatory authorities - one of the most important is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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What are flexible robots for?
But the technology for extracting foreign objectsfrom the body to mankind is needed. Some people, especially young children, sometimes accidentally swallow dangerous objects. In 2014, a report appeared on the pages of the scientific publication LiveScience that there are very frequent cases of children swallowing magnetic balls in the world. Because of this, toys with small magnets were banned in the United States for some time, and after the ban was lifted, the number of hospitalizations due to their ingestion increased by as much as 400%. The danger of swallowing magnets lies not only in their toxicity. Inside the body, they can attract and block vital pathways.
The "venom" developed by Chinese scientists canfeel free to add to the piggy bank of the strangest robots in the world. Engineers really love experiments and sometimes present extremely unusual designs to the world. For example, in 2018, a robot was developed that runs on the energy of popcorn. If you are interested, you can read the details by clicking on this link.