University of Leeds researchers are developing robots with feet similar to those of tree frogs to crawl inside patients' bodies during keyhole surgery. The robot is designed to move across the internal abdominal wall of a patient, enabling surgeons to see what they are doing on a real-time video feed.
Tree frogs' feet solve the problem of getting the robot to stick to wet, slippery tissue when it is vertical or upside down. The pattern on a tree frog's foot offers a way to hold and release a grip without harming the patient.
"Tree frogs have hexagonal patterned channels on their feet that when in contact with a wet surface build capillary bridges, and hence an adhesion force," says Leeds professor Anne Neville. "It is the same kind of idea as a beer glass sticking to a beer mat, but the patterns build a large number of adhesion points that allow our robot to move around on a very slippery surface when it is upside down."
Neville says the robot will need to move to all areas of the abdominal wall, turn and stop under control, and remain stable enough to capture images for the surgeons to work with.
From University of Leeds
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