Modeling and experimental characterization of propulsion of a spiral-type microrobot for medical use in gastrointestinal tract
In this paper, a spiral-type medical robot based on an endoscopic capsule was propelled in a fluidic and tubular environment using electromagnetic actuation. Both modeling and experimental methods have been employed to characterize the propulsion of the robotic capsule. The experiments were performed not only in a simulated environment (vinyl tube filled with silicone oil) but also in a real small intestine. The effects of the spiral parameters including lead, spiral height, the number of spirals, and cross section of the spirals on the propulsion efficiency of the robot are investigated. Based on the transmission efficiency from rotation to translation as well as the balancing of the microrobot in operation, it is demonstrated that the robot with two spirals could provide the best propulsion performance when its lead is slightly smaller than the perimeter of the capsule. As for the spiral height, it is better to use a larger one as long as the intestine's size allows. Based on the simulation and experimental results presented, this study quantifies the influence of the spiral structure on the capsule's propulsion. It provides a helpful reference for the design and optimization of the traction topology of the microrobot navigating inside the mucus-filled small intestine.