'Robot Sperm' Slow but Accurate
Tiny robots could be used for IVF, researchers say
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2014 5:18 AM CDT
The sperm bots "swam" toward their targets with the use of magnetic steering.   (University of Twente)

(Newser) – Technophobes may be alarmed to learn that new sperm-like robots could soon be performing many activities—including fertilizing human eggs. Researchers say the tiny bots, dubbed "MagnetoSperm," were inspired by the shape and movement of sperm cells and can "swim" to their target with incredible accuracy, LiveScience reports. They believe the sperm bots could be useful in nanomanufacturing as well as for medical uses including unclogging arteries, drug administration, and in vitro fertilization.

The robots have a metal head and a body of flexible polymer, and are steered through a field produced by electromagnetic coils. "The magnetic head is used to orient it in a certain direction and then, just by flapping its tail, it starts to move forward," the lead researcher explains to the BBC. "The flapping happens because we change the current in the coils," he says, predicting that the tiny bots will prove useful where it is necessary to reach "precise locations." The bots are still a lot slower—and around six times bigger—than human sperm, but the MagnetoSperm team says it is working on creating smaller, faster versions. (Meanwhile, scientists have recently found the world's oldest sperm.)

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Showing 3 of 15 comments
TwoSheds
Jun 3, 2014 10:33 PM CDT
Built for comfort, not for speed
jgarbuz
Jun 3, 2014 4:24 PM CDT
It's good. The sooner we have robots ruling over us all, and babies produced in factories or hatcheries, the better off we'll all be. Humans ruling over other humans has proved to be very bad. And today women have too much power over who lives and who dies in the womb. It's time for a Brave New World to emerge.
K.C.
Jun 3, 2014 2:45 PM CDT
In the immortal words of Eunice Higgins: "Wu-ua-t"? Along with Bozo 99, I too am reminded of Wesley Crusher's "nanobot" experiment (which went awry on the TV series, by the way). I do like the idea of tiny 'bots scraping out earwax & gangrene. They would beat leeches and maggots to my way of thinking. However, I don't get the connection to facilitating human fertility.