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This Strange Stingray Robot Is Made of Rat Heart Muscle

Mark Andrew

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I don’t know which one is crazier – the fact that there is a stingray robot out there or that it is made of living rat cells. Well I really can’t blame you if you say both!

The concept may sound like something straight from a sci-fi flick but no, this is real life, people. In a report recently posted online by Popular Mechanics, we learn about a “soft robotic stingray” which is “made of rat heart muscle.”

Kit Parker, a bio-engineer from Harvard who led a team of developers to create the robot, explained:

“Roughly speaking, we made this thing with a pinch of rat cardiac cells, a pinch of breast implant, and a pinch of gold. That pretty much sums it up, except for the genetic engineering.”

According to Parker, the robot is powered by 200,000 genetically engineered rat heart-muscle cells. Fascinatingly, it glides on water with the same motion as a real stingray and it has been designed to follow light pulses.

The robot is powered by 200,000 genetically engineered rat heart-muscle cells.

stingray robot 1

Although not involved in creating the strange robot, Adam Feinberg, a Carnegie Mellon University roboticist, said:

“By using living cells they were able to build this robot in a way that you just couldn’t replicate with any other material… You shine a light, and it triggers the muscles to swim. You couldn’t replicate this movement with on-board electronics and actuators while keeping it lightweight and maneuverable. And it really is remote controlled, like a TV set.”

Watch the video here and see how this robo-stingray works:

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When asked whether the stingray bot is alive or not, Parker simply answered:

“I think we’ve got a biological life-form here. A machine, but a biological life form. I wouldn’t call it an organism, because it can’t reproduce, but it certainly is alive.”

Although I would admit this invention is pretty cool, I still couldn’t help but get a mad scientist vibe from Parker because of that quote.

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