Home pagePress monitoringBiobots made from muscle propelled by neurons and light

Biobots made from muscle propelled by neurons and light

Date: 16.9.2019 

Tiny, soft robots that can safely navigate biological settings like the human body could mean big things for medical treatment, but moving them through these environments is much easier said than done.

Kredit: Michael Vincent.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have come up with a promising new possibility, describing biohybrid robots that can be propelled purely by a mix of motor neurons, muscular tissue and light.

The team at the University of Illinois has been exploring these possibilities for quite some time. The same scientists have published a number of papers this decade describing synthetic bio-bots that use integrated cardiac cells that beat and light to drive propulsion systems, allowing them to walk and swim on their own.

Using muscle tissue to power biobots was a hallmark of the team’s earlier work and makes a lot of sense. It is entirely biodegradable and can expand and contract without the need for external batteries or power. Previous versions used electrical signals to trigger this process, and using neurons in their place has been a long-time goal for the team hoping to turn them into “intelligent machines.”

“Here, we achieve this milestone and demonstrate neuromuscular actuation of a biohybrid swimmer,” the team writes in their paper. “This paves the way for the development of biohybrid embodied platforms as models to gain deeper understanding of motor control, with potentially broad impact in robotics, bioengineering, and health.”





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