We get a little more creeped out each week or so, as a new form of minimally overtly invasive robotic creature somehow comes to life and sets its sights on perusing our innards. The newest species hails from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was designed to "crawl across the surface of the heart to deliver treatment." The eerily-dubbed "robotic caterpillar" measures just a few centimeters in length and can scoot about at a blistering 18-centimeters per minute via "push and pull" control wires that reside outside of the body. The lead doctor on the project suggests that the critter could "allow procedures to be carried out without having to stop the heart, reducing the risk of illness linked to heart bypass surgeries," and moreover, insinuated that patients would spend less time recovering in the hospital after he / she was all sewn up. Apparently, the HeartLander could be available for human practice "within three to four years," but according to a director at the British Heart Foundation, "a lot more research is needed to determine whether something delivered to the outside surface of the heart can modify activity on the inside."

[Via BBC]

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HeartLander caterpillar robot crawls on heart, administers treatment