An Earthworm-Like Robotic Endoscope System for Human Intestine: Design, Analysis, and Experiment

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The existing endoscope brings too much discomfort to patients because its slim and rigid rod is difficult to pass through α, γ loop of the human intestine. A robotic endoscope, as a novel solution, is expected to replace the current endoscope in clinic. A microrobotic endoscope based on wireless power supply was developed in this paper. This robot is mainly composed of a locomotion mechanism, a wireless power supply subsystem, and a communication subsystem. The locomotion mechanism is composed of three liner-driving cells connected with each other through a two-freedom universal joint. The wireless power supply subsystem is composed of a resonance transmit coil to transmit an alternating magnetic field, and a secondary coil to receive the power. Wireless communication system could transmit the image to the monitor, or send the control commands to the robot. The whole robot was packaged in the waterproof bellows. Activating the three driving cells under some rhythm, the robot could creep forward or backward as a worm. A mathematic model is built to express the energy coupling efficiency. Some experiments are performed to test the efficiency and the capability of energy transferring. The results show the wireless energy supply has enough power capacity. The velocity and the navigation ability in a pig intestine were measured in in vitro experiments. The results demonstrated this robot can navigate the intestine easily. In general, the wireless power supply and the wireless communication remove the need of a connecting wire and improve the motion flexibility. Meanwhile, the presented locomotion mechanism and principle have a high reliability and a good adaptability to the in vitro intestine. This research has laid a good foundation for the real application of the robotic endoscope in the future.

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