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i-Snake Flexible Robot Surgeon Concept

The i-Snake, a robotic surgeon flexible enough to slither down clogged major arteries, is a concept under development in the UK. The Imperial College London team has won a 4.2 million dollar grant to make this robotic concept real, hopefully in the next four years.


(i-Snake robotic surgeon concept)

The robot could be used to facilitate coronary bypass operations; if physicians could avoid cracking the chest open, most of the trauma of the surgery could be avoided.

The i-Snake would also be a great exploratory device, allowing physicians to have eyes (and other sensors) inside the body.

As far as I know, there is no direct sfnal precursor to the idea of a medical snake-like robot. I've seen mining worms, though. The earliest reference I know of is the robot earthworm from War with the Robots, a 1962 story by Harry Harrison.

Seen close it was not completely flexible, but made instead of pivoted and smoothly finished segments...

"...At the front end is a hard-edged orifice that drills a hole in the ground. Debris is carried back through the body of the machine and eliminated here: in operation it is not unlike the common earthworm. Directional apparatus here guides it, oriented by a gravimeter to locate our base. Here a power unit and here a frequency generator...
(Read more about the robot earthworms)

This isn't the first medical robot snake; see Snake-like Robots For Throat Surgery Doc Ock-Style. Learn more about the history of real-life research into these robots in my Snake Robot Roundup.

Via i-Snake, a new robotic surgeon.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/30/2007)

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