First of all, a ‘bio-bot’ is a machine which uses synthetic 3D-printed material with biological muscle tissue. Having stated the latter, researchers from the University of Illinois have apparently developed the so-called bio-bots in question, taking us one step further into the future of technological advancements.
Some might wonder how the bio-bots work and what is so special about them. The answer lies in the muscle fibers, having them spiked with electricity in order to contract. The muscles are attached to flexible 3D-printed skeleton frameworks, resulting in bending the skeleton when the muscles contract and reverting back to its original state when they relax. This in the end produces movement, combining biological and synthetic material to achieve such an action, thus the name ‘bio-bot’.
It is said that researchers have been working on similar projects since 2012. At that time, a walking bio-bot prototype used rat heart cells in order to provide motion. However, the researchers found out that the rat cells were not responding well to the induced electricity and couldn’t control when they fired. However, it appears that the ‘new version’ has solved this problem.
“Skeletal muscles cells are very attractive because you can pace them using external signals,” head researcher Rashid Bashir said. “We want to have different options that could be used by engineers to design these things.”
The group of researchers from Illinois sees bio-bots potentially useful for surgical aids and drug delivery vehicles. The group also emphasized that, having their own neurons, they could even recognize and respond to light and chemical stimuli. The group has apparently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is a good place to get more details about the bio-bots in question.