From the chest-burster in Alien to the bellybutton bot in The Matrix, most of us are a wee bit squeamish about the whole thing-crawling-around-inside-you experience. And if thoughts of parasites playing poker in your body cavity already keep you up at night, this article probably isn’t for you—because scientists are working on a robot that can walk around inside your gut like a tree frog on a wet leaf.
Not just for fun, of course. (You’ll have to pay extra for that.) Modern surgery techniques allow doctors to perform complex tasks with the smallest of incisions, reducing pain and recovery times. However, there are obvious drawbacks to these techniques—namely visibility. That’s why researchers at the University of Leeds are working on a robot small enough to enter the body through the same hole used for laparoscopic surgeries. The robot would be the surgeons’ man on the inside—a crawling camera used to guide other instruments.
Obviously, getting a robot to walk upside down on the abdominal wall isn’t the easiest task in the world. So researchers have once again looked to nature for inspiration.