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Soft Robot Unfurls Inside the Skull(Robotics)

In a groundbreaking feat, a soft robot like an octopus in Robotics unfolds within the skull, positioning onto the brain. This propels neuroscience, offering avenues for less invasive brain research and brain-computer interface implementation. This innovative device, as experts suggest, could revolutionize post-accident brain function analysis, seizure treatment, and the integration of brain-computer interfaces.

Getting Around the Drawbacks of Invasive Procedures in Robotics

Scientists traditionally employed arrays of electrodes placed directly onto the brain’s surface, a technique known as electrocorticography grids.. These grids are less intrusive than probes implanted into the brain and allow for higher-quality recordings of brain activity than electrodes placed on the scalp. During this procedure, openings of the same size as the electrode arrays need to be created in the skull. However, this treatment carries significant risks, including inflammation and scarring.

Exploring the Potential of Soft Robots

Researchers recently succeeded in creating a soft robot that can be placed through a very small hole in the skull. Through pig studies, they demonstrated the robot unfolding a 4cm-wide electrocorticography grid in a space as small as 1mm. This technology, led by Stéphanie Lacour, a neural engineer at the Neuro-X Institute, enables implant travel in the space between the skull and brain.

Functionality and innovative design in Robotics

The soft robot’s array consists of thin, flexible gold electrodes that are evaporated onto medical-grade silicon rubber and are less than 400 micrometers thick.The array maximizes the surface area and quantity of electrodes in contact with the brain with its six spiral arms. The array was originally folded inside a tube and pushed through a hole in the skull to deploy it. Then, over a period of 30 to 40 seconds, a watery solution is added, causing each spiral arm to progressively turn inside out.

Promising experimental results and potential future applications

When the researchers electrically stimulated the tiny pig’s snout during the experiment, the array successfully recorded brain activity connected to sensory stimuli. The goal of Lacour and her colleagues is to create brain stimulation and brain wave detection arrays. In order to prevent using too much force, which could cause permanent brain damage, the array is equipped with sensors that track the fluid pressure that each arm experiences during deployment.

The Soft Robot’s Potential Expanded

The study is a proof of concept, yet researchers advise further research to scale and transition the technology for medical-grade standards. With significant potential for brain-computer interfaces and epilepsy monitoring devices, this discovery holds promise. Further advancing this innovation, the Neurosoft Bioelectronics spinoff secured a substantial Innosuisse grant. Its objective is to introduce this groundbreaking technology to clinical environments.


Neuroscience research has achieved a significant breakthrough through the development of a soft robot resembling an octopus. This robot can be utilized for brain studies and the implantation of brain-computer interfaces. This technology enables various brain research and medical applications, mitigating invasive procedure constraints through less invasive alternatives. While the potential for brain-computer interfaces and monitoring implants is high, refinement and translation to medical-grade standards are necessary.

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