Robot Delfin Detects Viruses in Inaccessible Places

Chinese scientists have developed an innovative soft robot capable of swimming and detecting chemical molecules and viruses, including the SARS-COV-2 virus, in hard-to-reach places. The robot, inspired by the tail of the dolphin, weighs only 5.3 grams and can move and monitor in narrow spaces, such as pipelines, which was previously extremely difficult.

A study published in the journal Science Advances emphasizes the potential of this invention for real-time monitoring in closed spaces. The main feature of the robot is its combination of movement and detection, which is rare in mobile robots. According to the information from South China Morning Post, the project manager Dr. Lee Danfen from the City University of Hong Kong said that the researchers aimed to create a robot that can swim “like a dolphin.”

The robot is equipped with an electromagnetic actuation system for controlling magnets that simulates the movement of a dolphin’s tail and allows it to move in water. The device also has electrode sensors, which can be adapted to detect various molecules depending on the needs of public health, from heavy metals to biological particles and nuclear pollutants.

Dr. Lee emphasized that the design of the robot “increases the efficiency and flexibility of mobile electronic monitoring systems without compromising productivity in narrow spaces.” An important feature is its wireless functionality, which allows it to work freely and without cables in closed environments, such as round pipes.

Researchers decided to forgo traditional batteries and instead use radio frequency signals obtained from electromagnetic fields emitted by an external coil to power the robot. This strategic choice not only reduces the weight of the robot but also allows it to be charged without wires while monitoring its environment.

A team of researchers sees potential applications for this soft robot in various scenarios, including pipelines, bodies of water, and even inside the human body. Despite the limitations in the design of the robot, such as the use of radio frequency energy that limits the working distance of the robot to a maximum of 4 cm and the transfer of data to a smartphone limited by a communication range of 10 cm, Dr. Lee is confident in the technology. He believes that such a distance is sufficient for use in pipelines, bodies of water, and even inside the human body.

The team also highlighted the importance of expanding the sensory perception capabilities of the robot to work in more diverse scenarios. They propose potential adaptations for use within the human body, such as monitoring gastric acids or conducting electrical stimulating therapy.

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.