Controlling Tiny Multi-Scale Robots for Nerve Repair

Tad Hogg, David W. Sretavan

We designed and evaluated multiagent control for microscopic robots ("nanorobots") aiding the surgical repair of damaged nerve cells. This repair operates on both nerves as a whole, at scales of hundreds of microns, and individual nerve cell axons, at scales of about a micron. We match the robots to these sizes using a combination of microelectomechanical (MEMS) machines for the larger operations and nanorobots for operations on individual cells. Multiagent control allows accurate and rapid repair with such robots, with only modest computational and communication requirements for the nanorobots, a significant benefit due to their physical limitations. Our simulations, using physical parameters dictated by nerve biology and plausible nanorobotic capabilities, show how specific control choices lead to trade-offs in clinical outcome. Beyond the specific example of nerve repair treated here, multi-scale robots could aid a variety of medical and biological tasks involving both the large scale of organs or tissues and the microscopic scale of individual cells.

Content Area: 17.Robotics

Subjects: 17. Robotics; 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems

Submitted: May 5, 2005


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