Surgical Robot Bores Into Brain Like Wasp

A new surgical robot bores into the brain like a wood wasp. I just love biomimetic robots, don't you?


(Wood wasp under scanning electron microscope)

Female wood wasps of the Siricidae family use an ovipositor, a needle-like shaft, to bore into pine trees and deposit their eggs. Two dovetailed shafts feature backward facing teeth. With each oscillation, the ovipositor moves a bit forward.

Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena at Imperial College London noticed that this boring movement is remarkably gentle in its application. He remarks "It can insinuate itself into the tissue with the minimum amount of force."

His team has created a prototype medical probe; the silicon needle consists of two shafts with teeth just 50 microns long. Tiny motors oscillate the shafts to propel the device forward just like the wood wasp.


(Oscillating shafts burrows into the brain)

Researchers hope that it can reduce the number of incisions needed to reach different parts of a brain tumor; it can crawl across the surface of the brain and then burrow in.

This medical team is not the first group to notice the digging capabilities of the wood wasp. In a 1996 paper, a drill with similar inspiration was suggested for interplanetary exploration probes by Yang Gao; Ellery, Jaddou, and Vincent.


(Model of planetary exploration ovipositor drill [pdf])

The woodwasp ovipositor, on the other hand, employs a longitudinal cyclical motion with its twin valves. Teeth on these valves alternately provide the reaction force required for drilling by the other valve. These teeth become pockets on different sides of the valves that enable waste to be transported up the hole.

This device reminded me of the robotic mining worms from Emmett McDowell's 1946 science fiction story Love Among the Robots and the spaghetti-like robot earthworms from Harry Harrison's classic 1962 story War With The Robots.

Seen close it was not completely flexible, but made instead of pivoted and smoothly finished segments. The robot pointed out the parts of int0erest.

"...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.
(Read more about Harrison's robot earthworms)

Sources: see New Scientist, Deployable wood wasp drill for planetary subsurface sampling (abstract only) and Biomimetics and robotics for space applications: challenges and emerging technologies (pdf).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/21/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'

'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.