In Brief
A demonstration headed by several research groups reveals a cool new ingestible robot that can unfurl itself in your stomach.

Tiny Origami

Researchers from MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology unveiled a capsule that can unfold once swallowed. The revolutionary capsule is steered by external magnetic fields and is capable of being used to help remove objects, patch up internal woulds, or deliver medicine.

The capsule is made of dried pig intestine (typically used as sausage casing) and a small magnet. When folded up it can be ingested easily by a patient, and once it reachers the stomach, it unfolds in its acidic juices where it is guided to complete the task at hand.


The design for the capsule is still a work in progress, but it does offer a lot of potential for future development and use.

“For applications inside the body, we need a small, controllable, untethered robot system,” said Daniela Rus, the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and co-creator of robot. “It’s really difficult to control and place a robot inside the body if the robot is attached to a tether.”

In the demonstration however, which required the origami robot to remove a swallowed battery from the stomach, it was able to do so easily using a pig’s stomach. They filled the model with water and lemon juice in an attempt to mimic the acidity of the stomach.

The next step is now to add sensors to the robot so that it can control itself without the need of an external magnetic field.