back to article This rope-laying, ever-growing robot may one day explore your blood vessels

Inspired by plants and fungi, scientists have devised a method to help so-called soft robots travel along tricky pathways by growing as they move. Unlike their more traditional metallic counterparts, soft robots have flexible bodies and their motion is controlled by manipulating materials to shuffle them along on their journey …

  1. Christoph

    The friction problem will still happen when they try to extract the thread.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      I suspect the trick is to *not* extract it, but use it as a strengthening agent for a weak vascular wall.

    2. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Nano dental floss for those hard-to-reach back teeth? Friction would be ideal.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "this tube can reach as much as 1.5 m in length"

    I'm not very comfortable with the idea of a 1.5m tube loged in my veins.

    1. Tubz Bronze badge

      Re: "this tube can reach as much as 1.5 m in length"

      You would be if your veins suffered from supply problems or risk collapsing, this is a great development for future medical procedures, without the risk of major surgery.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: "this tube can reach as much as 1.5 m in length"

        Have a upvote for your curiously appropriate nick.

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: "this tube can reach as much as 1.5 m in length"

      Can anyone remind me of how many miles of veins are ina typical human body. No don't bother GOOGLE to the rescue

      To give you some perspective, a strand of human hair measures about 17 micrometers. But if you took all the blood vessels out of an average child and laid them out in one line, the line would stretch over 60,000 miles. An adult’s would be closer to 100,000 miles long.

      Seems like it needs to grow a bit more.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    I've been practicing bowing before a Robot Overlord but how the hell am I supposed to bow when it's a Robot Innerlord?

  4. Jan K.

    "Soft robots are expected to be able to navigate through difficult environments, such as the human body..."

    Uh, sounds like something google and meta would be drooling all over...

    Besides that, interesting article. Thanks!

  5. jlturriff

    Where does the robot store its liquid polymer, and when it has done its work, what happens to the tube? One hopes that it degrades safely into non-toxic waste?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow.. just wow...

    This describes some toon pron to a T. Being touches goo, goo invades holes, being turns into goo. I bet toy makers want this too. Toys that grow deep when they're in, wheeee!

    Anon cause ima dirty tosser.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's some similarly fascinating work being done on non-rigid self-extending "snakes", which - because they are non-rigid - are retractable. They are essentially a tube stored inside itself, and it extends by inflating the intervening space. This is one of them.

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