Stingray robot is part rat heart and part breast implant sprinkled with gold

Scientists and researchers around the world are working on tiny robots that use organic cells in their construction. The latest such robot device to use organic sells is the soft robotic stingray you see in the image here. This contraption is able to move under its own power by flapping its stingray-like wings and it's made using rat cardiac cells.

Scientist Kit Parker, a Harvard bio-engineer said, "Roughly speaking, we made this thing with a pinch of rat cardiac cells, a pinch of breast implant, and a pinch of gold. That pretty much sums it up, except for the genetic engineering."

The robotic creation is about half an inch long and weighs in at about ten grams. It glides through liquid using the same motion used by skates and stingrays to move in the oceans. The bot is powered by 200,000 genetically engineered rat heart-muscle cells that were grown on the bottom of the bot.

The robot is designed to follow bright pulses of light and can smoothly twist and turn through an obstacle course. The use of living cells allowed the team to design the robot using methods that couldn't be done with other materials according to scientist Adam Feinberg. Feinberg said, "You shine a light, and it triggers the muscles to swim. You couldn't replicate this movement with on-board electronics and actuators while keeping it lightweight and maneuverable. And it really is remote controlled, like a TV set."

Construction of the bot uses four layers of material with the top layer being a 3D body of silicone, the same material used in the outer coating of a breast implant. That silicone is cast in a titanium mold. The second layer is a gold skeleton to provide recoil so the fins bounce back to their original positions. The third layer is another very thin layer of silicone. The last layer contains the living rat cells laid over the fins in a serpentine pattern. The liquid the robot swims in has to have suspended nutrients to keep the rat heart cells fed.

SOURCE: Popular mechanics