CUHK AI technology navigates microrobot swarm in complex environments inside human body
Engineers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong have developed an artificial intelligence navigation system that can allow millions of microrobots to gather in a human body for medical purposes.
The new system can allow millions of microrobots to behave like a bee swarm, autonomously reconfiguring their motion and distribution according to environmental changes, which allows them to go around obstacles inside a human body.
The findings have been reported in the Nature Machine Intelligence journal, the university research team said.
The AI system obtains vision from imaging tools, such as ultrasound and X-ray fluoroscopy, to help the microrobots identify obstacles inside the human body and plan in real-time the best possible route for the delivery of drugs, he said.
The system can also control magnets or electromagnets to navigate the microrobot swarm and change their formation to increase their success rate in reaching the destination, the research team said.
The team also examined the effectiveness and reliability of the microrobotic AI navigation system in a virtual placenta, simulating the complex blood vessel structure that microrobots may face. The results showed that the AI system works successfully in complicated environments.
“We haven’t yet to find a way to make the microrobots themselves intelligent,” Zhang Li, the team leader and professor at CUHK’s Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering said, “but we can use the AI controlling system to externally manipulate their collective motion, making sure they do not get lost and stuck in the body.”
“I hope the AI navigation system will one day enable surgeons to deploy microrobots for therapeutic applications, such as targeted drug delivery in the human body without specialized training,” Zhang said.