Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

By | September 1, 2012

Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals’ behavior.

Now, scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania are taking more than inspiration from nature — they’re taking ingredients. The group has genetically engineered muscle cells to flex in response to light, and is using the light-sensitive tissue to build highly articulated robots. This “bio-integrated” approach, as they call it, may one day enable robotic animals that move with the strength and flexibility of their living counterparts.

The researchers’ approach will appear in the journal Lab on a Chip.

Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says the group’s design effectively blurs the boundary between nature and machines.

“With bio-inspired designs, biology is a metaphor, and robotics is the tool to make it happen,” says Asada, who is a co-author on the paper. “With bio-integrated designs, biology provides the materials, not just the metaphor. This is a new direction we’re pushing in biorobotics.” …

via Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle – MIT News Office.

3 thoughts on “Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

  1. Fred Killer

    Now all they need to do is use fibre-optic nerve tissue, of course.

    iRobot is probably already amongst us. For all we know, we could simply be bi-robots ourselves, invented by non-physical entities for mining gold…..

    This might explain our fascination with it. Only what I’ve read. Makes as much sense as anything else these days.

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