A robot that can perform colonoscopies may make the procedure simpler and less unpleasant.
Pietro Valdastri at the University of Leeds in the UK and his colleagues have developed a robotic arm that uses a machine learning algorithm to move a flexible probe along the colon.
The probe is a magnetic endoscope, a tube with a camera lens at the tip, that the robot controls via a magnet external to the body.
The system can either work autonomously or be controlled by a human operator using a joystick, which pushes the endoscope tip further along the colon. Valdastri likens the movement to the intuitive motion of playing a video game. The system also keeps track of the location and orientation of the endoscope inside the colon.