Tech of the Week: Living Muscle Integrated with Robot Technology
The incredible advances of the medical world are now colliding with the ever evolving technology universe. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, under the leadership of head of bioengineering Professor Rashid Bashir have begun to implement the idea of “muscular robots.” The idea behind this experiment is to create a robotic device that moves quicker, more efficiently, and is easier to control using human skeletal muscle cells. So far, the research team has been successful. However, these “bio-bots” still have much more growing to do.
“The robot is put together in a system similar to bone-muscle-tendon. A 3D-printed hydrogel base forms the robot’s “backbone”, strong enough to maintain structure, but flexible enough to move with the muscle. The strip of muscle is anchored to the backbone by two posts, which act like tendons, but also serve as the robot’s feet. Electric pulses are then administered; the higher the frequency, the faster the robot moves.”
Similar to the way we are bringing technology into the human body with 3-D printed human hearts, we are now bringing human life into tech devices. If this new generation of robots continues to more forward, literally and figuratively, the opportunities to integrate them into the various work fields are endless. From surgical support to manual labor on construction jobsites, this technology could be used across an endless number of industries.
How do you think this idea of integrating human cells with technology could benefit different industries around the world? Do you think this theory may one day allow robots and drones to take over even more duties from human employees, such as dangerous tasks on a construction site?