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Walking Bio-Bots Powered by Muscle Cells & Controlled by Electrical Pulses
Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a class of walking "??bio-bots"?%9D powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function. The bots, comprised of a 3d-printed flexible hydrogel and engineered muscle, are designed to mimic the muscle-tendon-bone complex found in the body. Previously, the group demonstrated bio-bots that "??walk"?%9D on their own, powered by beating heart cells from rats. However, heart cells constantly contract, denying researchers control over the bot"s motion. The new bio-bots are powered by a strip of skeletal muscle cells that can be triggered by an electric pulse. "??It's exciting to think that this system could eventually evolve into a generation of biological machines that could aid in drug delivery, surgical robotics, 'smart' implants, or mobile environmental analyzers, among countless other applications,"?%9D says graduate student Caroline Cvetkovic.
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