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DIY-Bot: Scientists Share How to 'Make Your Own' New Generation Bio-Bots

Feb 14, 2017 11:19 AM EST
3D printing aids scientists in creating a bio-bot. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images) (Photo : Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Interested in building your own robot? This just may be your chance. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are sharing the recipe for their current generation "bio-bots."

According to a report from the Engineering at Illinois, this particular line of bio-bots are equipped with muscle cells as well as electrical and optical pulses. The composition of these robots give it the potential to adapt to environmental signals and eventually demonstrate complex behavior.

First author Ritu Raman and the rest of the team are allowing the world access to their "recipe", so fellow researchers can replicate their works or develop their own bots using their framework. Their bio-hybrid methods can pave the way for the scientific community to address challenges in health and the environment.

Their protocols is a step-by-step guide on creating a bio-bot, from start to finish. It includes their methods in 3D printing the skeleton, tissue engineering and manufacturers and part numbers of the tools the researchers used in the development of the bot.

The team took advantage of the recent rise of 3D printing technology as it allowed them to "build with biology," as Raman puts it. This method was used to create skeletal muscle rings for different kinds of bio-bot skeletons that are very similar to actual muscle strips.

Raman said that together with MIT, they genetically engineered a "light-responsive skeletal muscle line" using optogenetics techniques. The said muscle line has the ability to contract by pulses of 470-nm blue light.

"The resultant optogenetic muscle rings were coupled to multi-legged bio-bot skeletons with symmetric geometric designs. Localized stimulation of contraction, rendered possible by the greater spatiotemporal control of light stimuli over electrical stimuli, was used to drive directional locomotion and 2D rotational steering," Raman further explained.

For the how-to protocols, check out the study that was published as the cover story in the journal Nature Protocols.

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