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Vanderbilt's Medical Capsule Robots' Hardware, Software Goes Open Source


National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship recipient Addisu Taddese holds a medical capsule robot.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have made their capsule robot hardware and software open source.

Credit: Heidi Hall/Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University researchers have made their capsule robot hardware and software open source.

The capsule robots are small enough to be swallowed, and could be used for preventative screenings and to diagnose and treat a range of internal diseases.

The researchers compare the capsules to Lego bricks. "We wanted to provide the people working in this field with their own Lego bricks for their own capsules," says Vanderbilt professor Pietro Valdastri.

The decision to open source the technology will enable other research groups with hypotheses about how to use the capsules to not have to redesign boards and interfaces from scratch, which means they can get to the prototyping stage faster.

The medical capsule robots can be manipulated to perform internal tasks instead of just passing through the body and recording video. The hardware modules handle computation, wireless communication, power, sensing, and actuation. In addition, each module is designed to interface with new modules developed by other research groups.

"Our focus is the design environment, not the software per se, with the goal of easing the learning curve for new researchers and engineers who start in this field," says Vanderbilt professor Akos Ledeczi.

From Research News @ Vanderbilt
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