If you've ever enjoyed those horror movies that involve organ harvesting, you may be pleased to know that scientists are one step closer to using organic matter to power robots. Sea slugs are getting first honours though. Image: Victoria Webster
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University took a sea slug's mouth muscle and attached it to 5cm-long 3D printed parts to make a "biohybrid robot". When shocked using electricity, the muscle helps the hybrid crawl forward — though at the not-very-quick speed of 0.4cm a minute.
"We're creating a robot that can manage different tasks than an animal or a purely manmade robot could," said doctoral candidate Victoria Quinn, who is leading the research. Sea slugs are adaptable to different temperatures and the soft muscle cells are safer to operate than hard parts.
In the future, these biohybrid robots could be used for search missions in the ocean. Between this 3D printed sea slug and the stingray robot fuelled from light-activated cells from rat hearts, one day we could have an entire fleet of cyborg animals doing our bidding.