DGIST microrobotic inventions win multiple awards

The potential of magnetically controlled microrobot technology in medicine has been recognized with five awards at a prominent international exhibition of inventions in Geneva.

DGIST-ETH Microrobotics Research Center (DEMRC) members in 49th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva with awards

A research team at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea has won five awards at the 49th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva. Held in April 2024, this is the biggest event in the world exclusively devoted to inventions. 1,035 inventions were exhibited at the event attended by 25,212 participants.


“We submitted four inventions and were delighted to win two gold and two silver medals and a special award from the Hong Kong Invention Association,” says robotics and mechantronics engineer Professor Hongsoo Choi of the research team at the DGIST-ETH Microrobotics Research Center (DEMRC).


Each of the inventions involve new technologies in the field of magnetically actuated microrobots. These are microrobots ranging in size from the nanometer to micrometer scale, therefore potentially able to travel inside the body. The versions developed at the DEMRC can be moved under wireless control and then be controlled by magnetic fields to deliver therapeutic agents at precise locations within the body. “They might also be applied to help perform physical interventional therapy,” adds Professor Choi.


The two gold medals were awarded for the projects: ‘Magnetic actuated anti-cancer cell robot’ and manufacturing of the same’, and a ‘Magnetic actuation system compatible with C-Arm’. The Hong Kong Invention Association special award was also gained by the first of these two gold medal winners.


The first of these innovations is a tiny robot containing magnetic nanoparticles that can be wirelessly controlled in response to external magnetic fields to accurately target solid cancer tumors. This technology has the potential to complement the limitations of anti-cancer cell therapy which has difficulty treating solid cancers due to the lack of targeted delivery methods.


The other gold award winner is a magnetic actuation system for wirelessly controlling a magnetic micro/nanorobot using a magnetic field while operating a C-arm X-ray imaging system to visually track the robot and target sites of disease.


The silver medals went to the projects entitled ‘Gradual Learning Method of Precision Magnetic Field Control System Controlling 3-Dimensional Position of Micro/Nano Robot’, and ‘Magnetic Actuation System’.


The first of these enables 3D navigation of magnetic microrobots by using the artificial intelligence (AI) technique called reinforcement learning (RL). This replaces the need for traditional mathematical modeling with the learning-based AI framework.


The other silver award winner is a magnetic actuation system designed for microrobotic applications within the human brain. The system is engineered to be compatible with traditional surgical rooms, enabling remote operation to protect surgeons from harmful radiation.


“Magnetically actuated microrobots remain in the research stage,” explains Professor Choi, “but we aim to continuously develop our innovations towards use in medical applications, eventually leading to commercialization and widespread use in many clinical situations.”


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