Researchers of University of Illinois Developing Bio-Bots

Biomimetics is a new topic of discussion among researchers. It means usage of designs and systems available in nature to come up with new innovations. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are also using this technology to come up with bio-bots.

The bio-bots have been developed from flexible 3D-printed hydrogels and living cells. The muscle cells are given shock with electrical pulses to initiate a contraction and finally, movement.

Study researchers think it is just a beginning to have biological machines that can perform functions of stimulation, training and programmed to do work. Lead researcher Rashid Bashir said possible applications include drug-delivery systems, smart implants, surgical robotics and mobile environmental analyzers among other things.

Researchers wants to have greater control over the bio-bots' motion. For this, they want to integrate neurons. The team is also hoping to engineer a hydrogel backbone that allows the bio-bot to have the ability to move in different directions based on different signals.

Credit should be given to 3-D printing using which engineers can think of exploring different shapes and designs. Bashir finds the idea of mixing engineering with cell-based structures to be quite an interesting one.

"Our goal is for these devices to be used as autonomous sensors. We want it to sense a specific chemical and move toward it, then release agents to neutralize the toxin, for example", stated Bashir. For Bashir, to be in touch of reality is a big accomplishment toward the goal.

Researchers said there is a lot of difference between new robots and walking robots. The new bio-bots use skeletal muscle that works similarly to the muscles found in humans and animals. The study acts as a first big step towards the development and control of biological machines.