Biological Robot’s always seemed like far flung sci-fi when I was a kid, so the fact that technology is evolving so fast is a constant source of wonder. The latest piece of scientific wonderment is the creation by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign of a robot born out of 3D printing and advanced bio-engineering, essentially biobot technology. Harnessing the power of rat heart cells a 3D printer was used to create a 7mm asymmetric hydrogel body that features “one, long thin leg resting on a stout supporting leg.” The thin leg is covered with the rat heart cells, and it moves when those cells beat. By itself.
The lead researcher Rashid Bashir explains they;
“harness the power of cells and nature to address challenges facing society.”
“nature solves a problem in such an elegant way. Can we replicate some of that if we can understand how to put things together with cells?”
Eventually the aim for the bio-bots is to train them to “look for a specific toxin and then try to neutralize it.” i.e. for drug screening as it could react to specific chemical compounds only found in specific drugs. It’s a slow process however and next up for nano tech is to improve the robot’s control and function so that future bio-bot’s may be able to respond to sunlight thanks to the cells that inhabit its frame.
Here’s the vid below: