Experts are developing a flexible surgical robot, known as the i-Snake.

This piece of medical machinery will according to the experts revolutionise keyhole surgery.

It could enable surgeons to do complex procedures previously possible only through more invasive techniques.

A team at Imperial College London has been granted £2.1 million for the work.

They envisage using the i-Snake - a long tube housing special motors, sensors and imaging tools - for heart bypass surgery.

But it could also be used to diagnose problems in the gut and bowel by acting as the surgeon's hands and eyes in hard to reach places inside the body.

The Imperial College team, which includes health minister and surgeon Lord Ara Darzi, will test the device initially in the laboratory before it is used on patients.