A small shape-shifting robot with soft contents and metal plates inspired by pangolins can use heat to stop bleeding inside the body or destroy harmful cancer cells. The robot can also be used to transport drugs directly to tumors or hard-to-reach areas such as arteries.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart covered the centimeter-sized robot with aluminum plates inspired by pangolins. They placed rectangular plates on top of the softer magnetic material, which allowed the robot to change its shape.

The researchers applied a magnetic field to the metal parts of the robot to make it move, bend, stretch, or heat up. Changing the frequency of these fields can also cause the plates to heat up, allowing the robot to process its surroundings with heat. They found that the robot’s body can heat up to over 70°C.

The researchers also used the robot’s heat to deliver cargo inside the stomach model. They stuck a piece of rubber material on the robot to imitate medicine capsules. The glue they used dissolved as the robot warmed up, placing the cargo in the desired location. This can enable targeted delivery of drugs into the body.

Source: The New Scientist