Technological advance: robot with living muscle and artificial skeleton surprises scientists

Get ready to forget everything you know about robotics conventional. Japanese scientists from the renowned University of Tokyo have just launched something new: a two-legged ‘biohybrid robot’ that mixes living muscle with an artificial skeleton.

Biohybrid robot

To create this remarkable feat, researchers took an innovative approach. They grew skeletal muscles in molds, producing strips of muscle tissue.

They then constructed a lightweight skeleton using styrene plates, a flexible silicone body, acrylic resin legs with brass wire weights, and feet printed in 3D.

What makes this robot so special is the way the strips of muscle tissue are attached along the body to the robot’s feet, replicating the connection of muscles and bones in animals.

Structure of the biohybrid robot – Image: Matter/Reproduction

With an electrical stimulus, the robot can perform slow forward movements and rotate in a small circle.

Professor Shoji Takeuchi, study author at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, expressed surprise at the project’s success.

“At first, we weren’t sure if we could achieve bipedal walking, so it was really surprising when we did,” says the scientist.

However, for now, don’t expect a delicate performance from this robot. The current model moves in a very rudimentary way, reaching a slow speed of just 5.4 millimeters per minute.

Additionally, it only works underwater, as lab-grown muscle dries quickly in the open air.

Despite current limitations, this research project marks a significant advance in the creation of biohybrid robots, showing that roboticists are overcoming major challenges.

The ability to move in straight lines and smooth curves represents just the first steps towards a new era of robotics.

Professor Takeuchi highlighted the importance of incorporating living tissue into robotsallowing you to explore the superior functionalities of living organisms.

He emphasized that the team is working on more advanced designs, aiming to create robots with more sophisticated gait capabilities, mimicking the complexities of human walking.

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