Robot Stingray

Harvard researchers on Thursday had unveiled a tiny robot Stingray powered by heart cells of rats with silicone and gold. The size of the artificial Stingray makes it travel smoothly through water when guided by light.

This bio-inspired swimming robot is powered by rat heart cells. According to the Journal Science, the tiny robot stingray that imitates a ray fish can be guided by light. While the structure built “a 1/10th-scale version of a ray fish with a microfabricated gold skeleton and a rubber body powered by rat heart muscle cells.”

The idea of these swimming ray-bots was when a Harvard bioengineer, Kit Parker’s young child tried to pet a stingray and it swiftly moved away from his daughter’s hand. Parker then observed the rippling body which noted him the trabeculated muscle on the endocardial surface of the heart. The researcher then probably thought of creating something that moves.

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“It struck me like a thunderbolt that I could build that system in the musculature, and that it would look very much like the [muscular] layer of the heart,” stated Parker. “All the dots connected.” He then took this idea to his team who developed the soft tissue robot.

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And this miniature robot which resembles an actual Stingray features a flat body with long fins which really help it to swim by flapping up and down. This little ray-bots polymer skin is wrapped in a gold skeleton and which is aligned by above 200,000 rat heart muscle cells called cardiomyocytes. These photovoltaic cardiomyocytes are tactically arranged along the top of the tiny robot. Well, these miniatures are just 16 millimetres long and weigh 10 grams.

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“Roboticists and engineers can see different ways to use biological cells as building materials,” said Parker to Popular Mechanics. “Marine biologists can take a look to better understand why the muscle tissues in rays are built and organized the way they are.” Parker now hopes that this will initiate other researchers to develop a complete genetically-engineered heart, amid other things.