Beat-Bots

A few months ago, dear galleons, we talked about artificial jellyfish created using rat heart muscle tissue. Some real Frankstein-y cyborg shit.

But of course, those jellies were just the beginning. Behold the latest in rat heart robotics:

 

That odd little guy is a little biological robot that walks. Well, okay, he doesn’t so much walk as he inches along as the rat heart muscle powering him causes his little body to flex.

Bio-bots like this guy were created at the University of Illinois. The 7mm long bots were printed on 3D printers using hydrogel (a biological substance frequently used in tissue engineering). After the bot was created, the underside of it was coated with a layer of living cardiac tissue. Rat heart tissue, to be precise.

As the heart tissue “‘beats”, the board-like protrusion on the bot contracts and curls under, pushing the little bot just the teeniest bit forward. Slowly, it can inch its way across a surface.

And I do mean slowly. The top speed one of these little bots has been clocked at is 1mm every 4 seconds (1.5cm per minute).

So… why make them?

The Illinois researchers hope the bots could (with many modifications) eventually work as toxin sensors, going into various environments and ferreting out toxins, then (possibly) neutralizing them.

Until then, they plan on trying to create bots in different shapes, as well as seeding the bots with different types of cells (like nerve cells or light-sensitive cells) to give them new capabilities.

The future is coming for us, galleons.

…It’s just inching along really, really slowly.

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