You will now see small robots that can swim and walk. A team of scientists has developed bio-bots – soft biological robots can move around and even swim when triggered by light or electrical signals or on their own.
These small bio-bots were first initially printed in 3D after which they were seeded with muscle cells. These cells then self-organised and formed functional tissues which made these bots to move.
Czech playwright Karel Capek first coined the word robot in 1921. Robotics is the science behind the designing, creating and application of robots. A sub-field robotics is bio-robotics which basically deals with the making of robots which emulate living biological organisms chemically or mechanically. Biorobotics can also be referred to as a theoretical discipline of comprehensive genetic engineering where organisms are produced and fashioned artificially. In simple terms creating life from non-living matter can be referred to as bio-robotics.
Several movies have made used such bio-bots to form the basis of their movies.
Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Taher Saif, said in one of his statements that these muscle-powered machines were being viewed as partly living, with the ability to form, the ability to age and the ability to heal if they are injured.
Saif also said that since now these bio-bots were working, they were now trying to go back and get an understanding of the organization of cells and the language which they used to communicate amongst themselves. This, he said, was “developmental biology of living machines.”
The team developed several designs to enable the bio-bots to walk in specific directions and then have power over their motion with electrical currents or light.
The head of bioengineering department at the University of Illinois, Rashid Bashir said that as engineers they normally built with materials such as steel, wood, and silicon. Their focus was to “forward-engineer biological or cell-based systems.”
The design was inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex that is found in nature. The bio-bots have a backbone or skeleton that has been made of soft polymers that are just like the ones used in contact lenses so they can bend instead of requiring joints as the human body does.
Professor Taher Saif also said that their intention was not to make these bio-bots swimmers or walkers but to lay a scientific foundation, so they have principles for fashioning biological machines in the near future.
Mankind’s first step into the world of making robots started with George Devol in 1954. Devol invented the first digital and programmable robot – Unimate. He sold Unimate to General Motors which the company used for lifting pieces of hot metal and die casting machines.
Humans have reached an entirely new level in the world of robots after the invention of these bio-bots. We are yet to see what more modifications our scientists come up with in the robots after such a break-through.