Cleo may be built with parts snagged from electronic toys and beepers, but this microrobot is no plaything. Someday it might offer surgeons a better alternative to unwieldy endoscopes for snipping polyps and making other repairs.
Built by James McLurkin, an engineering senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cleo is small enough to move through the colon and relay close-up pictures through an optical fiber to a surgeon. A thin control cable enables the surgeon to steer the robot to a polyp, cut the growth with a microscalpel, and suction away the debris. But McLurkin worries that he may not complete development if funds for his project, now provided by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, aren't renewed as a result of government cutbacks.