Questions for ‘Robots may soon actively crawl through your gut’


This magnetic endoscope has a light, camera and tiny robotic arm so it can perform tasks inside the body, such as cut or grip something.

Vanderbilt University Science and Technology of Robotics in Medicine Lab

To accompany feature “Robots may soon actively crawl through your gut


Before Reading

1.     Can you think of some reasons why doctors might use tiny robots, instead of their own eyes or hands, to explore a patient’s body?

2.     Imagine a doctor told you a miniature robot would be going inside your body for a medical procedure. How would this make you feel?

During Reading

1.     What method do doctors use now to see inside a person’s digestive tract? Why would a robot be better?

2.     How does the SAW robot move?

3.     How have researchers manufactured the SAW robot?

4.     How is Zarrouk testing the SAW robot before he puts it into people?

5.     How would Daniela Rus’s origami robot get inside a patient’s stomach?

6.    How do engineers steer the origami robot in the lab? How will doctors steer it once the technology is ready for use in real patients?

7.    List four tasks that Rus’s origami robot might be able to perform inside a patient’s gut.

8.    What is the colon?

9.    Describe three ways Keith Obstein’s endoscope is different from the tool doctors normally use for a colonoscopy.

10.   How many people in the United States die each year from colon cancer?

After Reading

1.     The tiny robots and devices in this story will help doctors study the digestive system. How do you think miniature robots might help doctors probe or treat other parts of the body? Give two suggestions.

2.     Imagine you’re a tiny robot that a patient is about to swallow. Describe what happens, step by step, from beginning to end — from a robot’s-eye view.