A Robotic Stingray may Help to Understand Working of Heart

A Robotic Stingray may Help to Understand Working of Heart

Jul 8, 2016 @ 21:30 | 

Bio-Inspired researchers have designed a miniature bio-hybrid robotic stingray that could help our understanding of the heart.

Robotic Stingray is neither fully living animal nor fully artificial robot; it is the hybrid of both. It has an elastomeric body enclosing a micro-fabricated gold skeleton (non living) with rat heart muscle cells – cardiomyocytes (living). Researchers created this hybrid system to understand the structure and control of heart cells; this could lead to create artificial heart. This may a small step toward Synthetic Cognition.

Batoid fish such as stingrays have relatively simple morphological blueprint. By combining soft materials and tissue engineering with Optogenetics, researchers created a bio-hybrid system that enables an artificial animal—a tissue-engineered ray. Researchers replicated fish morphology by patterning rat cardiomyocytes on an elastomeric body enclosing a micro-fabricated gold skeleton.

This Robotic stingray is approximately 1/10th scale of the real natural Stingray. It can swim and phototactically follow a light cue.

Optogenetics (a biological technique which involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue) allows for phototactic guidance, steering, and turning maneuvers of Robotic Stingray. Optical stimulation induced sequential muscle activation via serpentine patterned muscle circuits, leading to coordinated undulatory swimming. The speed and direction of the Robotic Stingray was controlled by modulating light frequency and by independently eliciting right and left fins, allowing the bio-hybrid machine to maneuver through an obstacle course. Each wing is tuned to a different light pattern, allowing the Robotic Stingray to turn.

With dissociated cells, naturally equipped with biosensors and bioactuators, as a programmable, actuating building material, they used Optogenetics and tissue engineering to build an adaptive swimming animal. This study is but a first step in engineering multilevel systems that link neurodynamics, mechanics, and complex controllable gaits—coupling sensory information to motor coordination and movement that leads to behavior. This work paves the way for the development of autonomous and adaptive artificial creatures able to process multiple sensory inputs and produce complex behaviors.

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Team of researchers from Harvard University, Sogang University-Korea, Stanford University have published a journal “Phototactic guidance of atissue-engineered soft-robotic ray” in Science on 8th July 2016.

Reference: Phototactic guidance of atissue-engineered soft-robotic ray, “Sung-Jin Park, Mattia Gazzola, Kyung Soo Park, Shirley Park, Valentina Di Santo, Erin L. Blevins, Johan U. Lind, Patrick H. Campbell, Stephanie Dauth, Andrew K. Capulli, Francesco S. Pasqualini, Seungkuk Ahn, Alexander Cho, Hongyan Yuan, Ben M. Maoz, Ragu Vijaykumar, Jeong-Woo Choi, Karl Deisseroth, George V. Lauder, L. Mahadevan, Kevin Kit Parker,” Science  08 Jul 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 158-162, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4292.

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