Biomimicry and nanotechnology meet in a new innovation that will allow nanobots or miniature robots to swim inside the bloodstream. These little machines are so small that thousands can crowd on the head of a pin. Researchers at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, in Canada, led by professor of computer engineering Sylvain Martel, have coupled live, swimming bacteria to microscopic beads to develop a self-propelling device.
Potential applications of this tool are many. Finding and destroying tumors, delivering medicines, and supplementing the immune system are just a few. A video here imagines how a nanobot might remove plaque from an artery:
This rendering of the nanobot bears a striking resemblance to an iconic work in the MoMA’s design collection, the sliding ball bearing. This design, by Sven Wingquist in 1907 is thought of as an example of Platonic beauty realized in the machine age. Its balance, symmetry, and repetition made it comparable to a sculpture in the eyes of Phillip Johnson. Over time, this aesthetic launched a thousand designs. Perhaps in the 21st century the hybrid robot, once we arrive at its essential form, will become a design collection cornerstone.