The birth of biohybrid beings
Toward Being a Heart
A tiny swimming robot, created by researchers at Harvard University’s Department of Bioengineering and Applied Sciences, is powered by rat muscle cells, making it a biohybrid machine–part robot, part biological tissue. Previous “bio-bot” projects have used biological actuators to produce movement. But the biorobotic stingray, developed by an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists, has pushed the field forward with a complex propulsion mechanism triggered by light, which allows the bio-bot to be steered around obstacles. And that’s just the beginning of what makes this robo-stingray special.
“Really what we’re doing is using tools from robotics to understand the heart,” Harvard professor Kit Parker told Popular Science. Parker is a cardiac physiologist, and he’s the guy who dreamed up this ambitious project. In the long term, his goal is to use the technology behind the robotic stingray to construct an entire human heart for kids with heart disease.