While ridiculously small robots crawling around in our bodies seems quite painful (and in some cases, it is), a team headed by Moshe Shoham of Haifa's Technion is developing a smoother riding robot to cruise the friendly passageways of the spinal canal. Dubbed the SpineAssist, this low-powered microbot is being crafted to "aid surgeons in performing delicate spinal procedures" by propelling itself through the water-like cerebral spinal fluid and channeling live video / snapshots back to the doctors in charge. Researchers have already engineered the propulsion system, and describe the device as a "free-swimming endoscope" with two actuators and swimming tails that will lug a camera into the fragile depths. Shoham estimates that a few more years of work will be needed to up its payload capacity and shrink it to an appropriate size, but at least someone's working on taking the back aches out of surgery, eh?

[Thanks, William]

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SpineAssist robot tours spinal canal with camera in tow