Robotic Biohybrid Stingray. Okay that name has at least two known parts – robotic and stingray. What the hell is biohybrid? Straight out of sci-fi movies, it is an actual robot that resembles a stingray but has animal parts. Real animal parts! Yes, it is part animal and part robot. It is the first of its kind.
What really is Robotic Biohybrid Stingray?
The Robotic Biohybrid Stingray is a brainchild of Harvard scientists. What they did is they took some living cells from the hearts of rats and used them to make this unique – whatever it is! Actually, it is a stingray – a robotic one that has living cells. It is capable of swimming exactly the way a stingray swims. It however cannot reproduce and it cannot eat. What the real animal parts can do is it can react to lights. So basically, it is a new level of bioengineering as said in the published report.
A bit more about Robotic Biohybrid Stingray
According to Kit Parker, the head researcher of the project, the Robotic Biohybrid Stingray is a new class of hybrid. It is not an organism because it ain’t capable of reproducing. However, it is very much alive. The robot is tiny and is made of silicone, gold and heart muscle cells that have been genetically engineered.
The movement of the robot can be controlled using light. This method of light-guided movement is known as optogenetics. It is true that different positions of light and different amplitudes of light can be used for making the robot move. However, the fun factor is that the movement is not actually controlled by scientists. It is actually in response to external stimulus (in this case, light).
A bit about optogenetics in Robotic Biohybrid Stingray
According to the creators of this creature, optogenetics is used for phototactic guidance. It allows for turning maneuvers and steering. The creature has muscle circuits that are placed in serpentine pattern. When optical stimulation is provided, muscles are activated sequentially. This allows for coordinated wave like or undulatory swimming. By controlling the light frequency, the direction and speed of the Robotic Biohybrid Stingray was controlled. When the left and the right fins were evoked separately, it allowed the robotic ray to maneuver through a deliberately designed obstacle course.