Rise of the machines? New steps toward bionic humans

by Allison Barrie,  |  published on February 27, 2013

Robots made of programmable living tissues … sound like fiction straight out of Battlestar Galactica?

New research could pave the way to machines built from biological materials — and it could rebuild a broken human heart.

The team developing the technology, led by Ali Khademhosseini, an associate professor at Harvard-MIT’s Division of Health Sciences and Technology, published their findings in the journal ACS Nano.

Their invention: bionic tissue, a hybrid material composed of cardiac cells, gel and carbon nanotubes.

Muscles made out of living tissue hold the potential to give robots far superior strength and physical properties. Not only would the robot’s bionic tissue be able to move, it would also be programmable.

These new tissues can already be programmed to swim, move back and forth and more. Last year, the researchers demonstrated jellyfish-style robots made of the material that could swim by themselves.

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