Skating Ahead into Advanced Robotics

Posted by Editor On July - 16 - 2016

Skating Ahead into Advanced Robotics

The robotic stingray, created with the use of 3D printing technology, uses a gold skeleton whose springlike qualities complement the light-induced cellular retraction of the rat heart cells to cause the robot to “swim” in predetermined directions

Recently published in the journal Science, among other publications, is the story of Kevin Kit Parker, an applied physicist at Harvard University who has been able to create a tiny stingray capable of semi-autonomous movement through the integration of heart cells from rats.

Writing for Science, Elizabeth Pennisi describes Parker’s journey of invention over that past five years as he and his team have been working on the principles of recreating a functional human heart. What started out with the recreation of the cellular “pumping” of jellyfish-like objects in their lab has culminated in the creation of this artificial stingray whose movement is directed by the use of light sources.

Because the robot is unable to regulate its body temperature to keep the rat cells alive, or even adequately feed the cells, the robot can only function in a salt and sugar solution heated to the correct temperature. The robot however does respond to light stimulation for its movement, which is facilitated by living cells and thereby qualifies the invention as a “cyborg.”

At only the size of a nickel, this development will undoubtedly pave the path for more biomedical uses of 3D printing. To read the full story, visit: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/robotic-stingray-powered-light-activated-muscle-cells.

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