Rat heart cells help create walking bio bots

The "bio-bots" were fabricated using a 3D printer and then seeded with the cardiac cells. The regular twitching motion of the heart cells makes the tiny structure flex and slowly inch along.
The project could lead to bio-bots with different shapes, seeded with all sorts of cells, that find a role in medicine or as sensors, said the researchers. The 7mm long bio-bots were fabricated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and resemble a diving board. They have one long leg supported towards one end by a broad stumpy foot.
A 3D printing process was used to build up layers to form the board and foot of the bio-bot from hydrogel – a biologically inert goo often used in tissue engineering work.
A separate procedure was used to coat the underside of the long board with a single sheet of living rat cardiac cells. When the heart cells twitch in unison they make the long board curl and act as a lever to push the bio-bot a tiny distance forward. The bio-bot’s top speed has been clocked at about 1mm every four seconds.
Prof Rashid Bashir, who led the research at the University of Illinois, said the team’s tiny bio-bots could find a role as sensors or in environmental reclamation projects.