A team from the Continuum Robotics Lab at the University of Toronto Mississauga is building a series of snake-inspired, slender, flexible and extensible robots for applications in surgery and industry.

The long, limbless robots, which are expected to be a few millimeters in diameter, are called continuum robots and are designed to access hard-to-reach places.

Source: University of TorontoSource: University of Toronto

The researchers suggest that the continuum robots will one day be able to reach precise surgical sites to treat previously inoperable brain tumors, injecting cancer drugs into those tumors or taking tissue samples, for instance.

Outside of the body, the robots could also be used to perform inspections of jet engines, the researchers propose.

Further, the team is working to develop continuum robots outfitted with sensors that enable the robots to partially steer themselves. In other words, a surgeon would operate the robot remotely via computer, while the robot would be capable of avoiding obstacles and recognizing its destination.

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