Researchers have created a robotic mimic of a stingray that’s powered and guided by light-sensitive rat heart cells.
The work exhibits a new method for building bio-inspired robots by means of tissue engineering. Batoid fish, which include stingrays, are distinguished by their flat bodies and long, wing-like fins that extend from their heads. These fins move in energy-efficient waves that emulate from the front of the fin to the back, allowing batoids to glide gracefully through water. Inspired by this design, Sung-Jin Park et al. endeavored to build a miniature, soft tissue robot with similar qualities and efficiency. They created neutrally charged gold skeletons that mimic the stingray’s shape, which were overlaid with a thin layer of stretchy polymer.