3D printing or rapid prototyping is helping us out not only on the technological front and in industries across the board, whether educational or medical, but it has also recently been linked to creating things that were once unimaginable. The future seems limitless with the amount of work and creations being added to the list through the process of rapid prototyping. Just seems like major breakthroughs with this technology are happening every month.
Using Sea Slugs to Build a Hybrid Robot
Most often than not we relate cyborgs with creatures that are part machine and part human. However, roboticists are not ones to think in such lines. Recently, researchers have generated a hybrid robot, which has been built from the body parts of sea slugs. Many have found this to be profound considering the innovative nature of such a step.
This new robot puts together a muscle that is Y-shaped from the mouth of a sea hare from California along with a skeleton that was made by rapid prototyping. Researchers removed the “l2” muscle surgically from the mouths of sea slugs and then attached them to flexible, plastic frames created through rapid prototyping. Once the muscles were exposed to an exterior electric field, the convulsions that stemmed from the action formed a measured clawing motion that was then capable of moving the little robot up to half a centimeter or 0.2 inches per minute! This was pretty amazing for those interested in studying robots and how they function.
In line with how sea turtles crawl, the robots were fashioned similarly. According to Victoria Webster, the lead author of this study and a graduate student from Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland, the researchers intended to come up with something that could move about with the use of only one Y-shaped muscle. Webster further stated that it should be possible to use similar methods or techniques in order to generate or create even more complicated or complex robots that use unique styles to move, such as the version that is inspired by inchworm, one that her team is presently working on with the help of rapid prototyping.
With just a few more developments, scientists have projected that the stocks of robots could soon be deployed in order to perform tasks. Tasks that may not be ideal for human beings such as looking for toxic leaks underwater or for searching for the black box of flight data recorder of an airplane that tragically incurred an accident and fell into the ocean. The jobs that these robots could perform could really take humanity forward by several notches.
The designers would like to create robots with rapid prototyping that are completely biological by replacing the hybrid bot’s plastic parts with organic material parts. According to Webster, they are creating a living machine, a bio-hybrid robot which is not made from organic material only.
Sea slugs habituate in a wide variety of conditions and temperatures and are not limited to one particular climate. Hence, their muscles can often function in environments that are myriad. Such a natural versatility is termed as key to developing and creating machines that are biological and capable of operating in diverse environments. Not to mention, along with such factors, new options are wide open for scientists.
According to Victoria Webster, through the use of sea hares as their source of material, they have attained materials that are far more vigorous than cells used in the past, paving the way for even greater discoveries in the future.
Webster’s team is now experimenting and testing with incorporating the nervous tissue and ganglia, which controls the muscles. The robots respond to chemical stimulation that is directed at them or to stimulation from sensory system nerves. By further invigorating the nerves, Webster’s team may just be able to pilot the robot for future robots and inventions of this nature.
Not only have the scientists invented robots through the use of sea slug parts, they have further generated and developed a technique to pattern collagen gel that they acquire from the skin of sea slugs into scaffolding for fully organic machines. Such non-hybrid robots could prove to be inexpensive, biodegradable and nonpolluting, which are key factors that could lead them to be top preferences for researchers, scientists and environmentalists alike. Especially considering the fact that huge hazards and expenses are often linked to robots. People would be delighted to hear that these new creations are not only inexpensive but do not pollute the air as well.
According to the scientists, such amicable qualities would also enable these hybrid robots to be released in huge numbers to the markets and environments where they are needed, without worrying too much about whether or not they are lost.
The scientists hope to continue their developments. They intend to include among their creations sensors, skeletons and organic controllers, which would help to further make the process of using these robots much easier.
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