These tiny robots with tentacles could be surgeons of the future

Image: Jaeyoun Kim/Iowa State University

Scientists have developed tiny robots with flexible tentacles which can wrap around and move minute objects without damaging them.

The researchers believe that these soft robots could be used to manipulate small objects such as embryos and enable safer microsurgery.

As part of the research, Jaeyoun Kim of Iowa State University and colleagues developed a new method for producing micro-scale robotic tentacles.

The tentacles wrap around tiny objects, such as eggs of small fish which deform and burst easily when handled by hard tweezers, without damaging them.

The authors also used the tentacle to pick up and hold an ant without damaging the body.

A combination of spiral motion and low force exerted by the micro-tentacle make it ideal for microsurgery, such as endovascular operations, a minimally invasive procedure which accesses the body via blood vessels.

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