The sticky, magnetic robot that can wriggle through narrow aisles, grab objects and mend broken chains captured the imagination of sci-fi fans around the world earlier this year by comparing it to Marvel’s Venom and sparked unprecedented interest in its creators. .
“I didn’t expect to get so much media attention after the New Scientist report,” says Li Zhang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A few days after the publication, Zhang was contacted by journalists from around the world, as well as a number of intrigued investors who wondered about the potential financial benefits from further development of the robot.
Zhang’s team now intends to explore the possibility of using the robot as a “third hand” for surgeons, where it can help with tasks such as applying pressure and holding tissue in the intestines.
One concern is that magnetic slime can begin to dissolve in humid conditions like those found in the human body, so Zhang’s team is investigating other substances that can last longer and prevent hazardous magnetic materials from seeping out.