Light-activated heart cells help guide robotic stingray | Science News

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Light-activated heart cells help guide robotic stingray

Engineering feat could pave way for new artificial organs

By
2:00pm, July 7, 2016
robotic stingray

SEE-THROUGH STINGRAY  A tiny robotic stingray with silicone skin and a gold skeleton uses muscles made out of rat heart cells to wiggle its fins. 

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Even robots can use a heart. Or heart cells, at least.

A new stingray bot about the size of a penny relies on light-sensitive heart cells to swim. Zaps with light force the bot’s fins to flutter, letting researchers drive it through a watery obstacle course, Kit Parker of Harvard University and colleagues report in the July 8 Science.

The new work “extends the state of the art — very much so,” says bioengineer Rashid Bashir of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It’s the next level of sophistication for swimming devices.”

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