These little robots are powered by an electromagnetic field, similar to how you would wirelessly charge a cell phone. By changing the frequency of the magnetic field, the researchers are able to precisely control the exact movement of their prototype.
For instance, one triangular robot that’s no bigger than a quarter is composed of three triangular pieces of thin plastic, attached with hinges to a middle triangle that has a circuit. The hinges are controlled by coils of a metal called “shape-memory alloy,” which changes its form when it’s exposed to heat. When an electric current starts running through the central circuit, these coils heat up and contract, causing the three triangles to fold up toward the center of the robot. When the current stops, the hinges return to their flat state.
Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.
Speaking of AI augmenting human intelligence rather than replacing, Ray Kurzweil popularized the idea in 2014 suggesting that nanorobotics could do the trick in just a few decades.
Remember that he works for Google.
An international team of researchers has developed miniscule, self-propelled devices that mimic the way cells move. These “nanoswimmers” cross the blood–brain barrier highly efficiently, and could lead to the development of drug delivery systems that navigate through tissues and organs to target specific sites precisely.
…penetrating the blood–brain barrier, which prevents microbes, toxins and large molecules from entering the brain, has proved hugely challenging. One major goal is to develop self-guided polymersomes that traverse this barrier to deliver their cargo to a specific brain area.
Nanotechnology is the science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.
Essentially, it’s manipulating and controlling materials at the atomic and molecular level.
To give you perspective, here’s how to visualize a nanometer:
- The ratio of the Earth to a child’s marble is roughly the ratio of a meter to a nanometer.
- It is a million times smaller than the length of an ant.
- A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
- A red blood cell is about 7,000-8,000 nanometers in diameter.
- A strand of DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.
A nanorobot, then, is a machine that can build and manipulate things precisely at an atomic level.
These legions of nanorobotic agents were actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria — and therefore self-propelled — and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug’s injection point and the area of the body to cure,” explains Professor Sylvain Martel, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics and Director of the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory, who heads the research team’s work. “The drug’s propelling force was enough to travel efficiently and enter deep inside the tumours.”
When they enter a tumour, the nanorobotic agents can detect in a wholly autonomous fashion the oxygen-depleted tumour areas, known as hypoxic zones, and deliver the drug to them. This hypoxic zone is created by the substantial consumption of oxygen by rapidly proliferative tumour cells.