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Robots in the Body

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The future of medicine will include microscopic robots that travel around the human body, collecting information and making minor repairs. At least that’s the view of researchers who are working in the emerging field known as nanorobotics.

If their designs can be realized, “nanorobots” might one day detect and break apart kidney stones, clear plaque from blood vessels, or ferry drugs to tumor cells.

These computer graphics depict one researcher’s view of nanorobots in simulated environments inside the body. They were created by Adriano Cavalcanti of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Campinas, Brazil, and his colleagues.

Nanorobots identifying molecules through their sensors.

Red blood cells and nanorobots inside a blood vessel (with grid texture).

Nanorobots avoiding obstacles.

To test designs on the computer, the researchers developed a program they call the Nanorobot Control Design (NCD) simulator.

According to Cavalcanti, “The NCD simulator consists of several modules that simulate the physical conditions, run the nanorobot control programs determining their actions, provide a visual display of the environment in 3-D, and record the history of nanorobot behaviors for later analysis.”

All images courtesy Adriano Cavalcanti. To see more works visit

— Edward R. Winstead

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