Researchers developed a robot stingray that also consists of living cells. Watch video.
A team of scientists developed a small stingray robot that is also "alive." Lead researcher Kevin Kit Parker is on a mission to build a living heart. On the way he is building artificial pumps inspired by jellyfish and now its a Stingray.
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According to Science Magazine, his daughter inspired the Stingray robot. When his daughter touched a stingray in the petting tank at an aquarium, it flicked one side of its body and veered away. “Maybe there is something similar with how the stingray changes direction and heart flow,” Parker thought. This is when Parker decided to move the research focus from jellyfish to Stingrays, making more complex “biohybrids.”
Even the robot Stingray control mechanism is inspired by Parker's daughter. He used to guide her on the sidewalk with a laser pointer when she was a toddler. Great idea. Never thought of that and now my kids do not need this anymore. Parker envisioned that the cells on the robot Stingray could be controlled via light.
The teams used optogenetics, in which cells are genetically enhanced with light-responsive molecules that trigger signaling cascades. It took 4 years from the vision of a light guided Stingray to the cover of Science Magazine.
The robot Stingray is powered by 200,000 heart cells harvested from 2-day-old rat embryos and placed on top of the silicone. Watch the video below explaining the robot Stingray.
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The paper titled "Phototactic guidance of a tissue-engineered soft-robotic ray" has been published in Science.