Multiple research groups are investigating the feasibility of miniature, swallowable, in vivo, untethered robots that are capable of traversing the gastrointestinal tract for the purpose of diagnosing pathologies, acquiring biometrics, and performing next-generation minimally invasive surgical procedures. The GI tract, however, is a challenging environment for an in vivo robotic capsule endoscope (RCE). A robot must navigate a tortuous path, ascend and descend mucus coated surfaces, and travel against peristaltic forces generated by the migrating motor complex. The design effort of RCEs has also been hindered, in part, by the lack of knowledge concerning the biomechanical properties of the intraluminal environment. A unified model of this environment will speed the development of RCEs. The purpose of this project is to characterize the active forces exerted by the small intestine on an RCE-shaped solid bolus, thus providing a valuable input for the creation of a model of the small intestine.
We collaborated with the Rentschler Research Group at the University of Colorado-Boulder on this project.