SINTEF scientists are working on a plastic capsule that measures scarcely more than 2 x 1 cm and is capable of examining body cavities. The micro-robot has a camera lens and foldable legs, and its plastic shell is packed full of advanced microtechnology, all designed to study our gastrointestinal tract. The robot pill is sleek and easy to swallow. Once it has passed into the digestive system it unfolds its little legs and behaves like a large beetle.
The doctors who follow its course from the outside can control the speed and direction of the robot as it crawls through the gut and transmits the images captured by the little camera that sits at one end to a computer screen. If the robot sees any signs of cancer, the doctors can stop it or make it turn back for a closer look. In addition to its camera, the microrobot carries a knife and forceps to take biopsy samples. It carries its tissue samples out to the doctors so that traditional analyses can be performed. The robot is expected to be ready for use in 2010.