Scientists Build Crawling Biohybrid Robot That is Part Sea Slug

Posted on July 18, 2016

Sea Slug biohybrid robot

Scientists have used a 3-D printer and tissues from a California sea slug (Aplysia californica) to build a crawling biohybrid robot. The researchers at Case Western Reserve University say the robot can crawl like a sea turtle. The scientists envision swarms of the biohybrid robots searching the depths of fresh and saltwater ponds and lakes for toxins.

The researchers say a muscle from the slug's mouth provides the movement for the robot. The movement is currently controlled by an external electrical field. The researchers say future iterations of the device will include an organic controller made using ganglia, bundles of neurons and nerves that normally conduct signals to the muscle as the slug feeds.

Victoria Webster, a PhD student who is leading the research, says in a statement, "We're building a living machine--a biohybrid robot that's not completely organic--yet."

Video of the robot in action has not yet been released. Popular Science says the robot research will be present at the upcoming Living Machines conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Photo: Victoria Webster