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Tiny Biohybrid Robots Guided by Muscles and Light

Tiny Biohybrid Robots Guided by Muscles and Light

Soft robotic devices have been developed by Researchers that are driven by neuromuscular tissue that gets triggered when stimulated by light.

Their work, revealed Monday within the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, brings the field of mechanical engineering one step closer to producing autonomous biobots.

The researchers have been capable of demonstrating a new technology of two-tailed bots powered by skeletal muscle tissue that has been stimulated by onboard motor neurons. These neurons will fire as much as actuating muscles upon exposure to light, making them optogenetic based on the research’s findings.

“Given the fact that biological actuators, or biobots, aren’t as mature as other technologies; they’re unable to produce large forces. This makes their movement hard to control,” stated Mattia Gazzola, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor of mechanical science and engineering, in a statement.

Another researcher concerned within the research mentioned their work opens up other possibilities for utilizing this kind of biobots to benefit most of the people.

“The ability to drive muscle activity with neurons paves the way for additional integration of neural units inside biohybrid systems,” Taher Saif, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mentioned. “Given our understanding of neural control in animals, it might be possible to move ahead with biohybrid neuromuscular design by using a hierarchical organization of neural networks.”

The scientists envision potential applications within the areas of bioengineering, medicine, and self-healing materials technologies.