'Living' micro robot could find diseases in humans

   Mar 30, 5:25 pm

Washington, Mar 30 (ANI): A new robot prototype is being developed that would function like a living creature, and could one day be used detect diseases in the human body.

Called 'Cyberplasm', it will combine advanced microelectronics with latest research in biomimicry (technology inspired by nature). The aim is for Cyberplasm to have an electronic nervous system, 'eye' and 'nose' sensors derived from mammalian cells, as well as artificial muscles that use glucose as an energy source to propel it.

The intention is to engineer and integrate robot components that respond to light and chemicals in the same way as biological systems. This is a completely innovative way of pushing robotics forward.

Cyberplasm is being developed over the next few years as part of an international collaboration. The UK-based work is taking place at Newcastle University.

The robot will be designed to mimic key functions of the sea lamprey, a creature found mainly in the Atlantic Ocean. It is believed this approach will enable the micro- robot to be extremely sensitive and responsive to the environment it is put into. Future uses could include the ability to swim unobtrusively through the human body to detect a whole range of diseases.

Once developed, the Cyberplasm prototype will be less than 1cm long. Future versions could potentially be less than 1mm long or even built on a nanoscale.

"Nothing matches a living creature's natural ability to see and smell its environment and therefore to collect data on what's going on around it", said bioengineer Dr Daniel Frankel of Newcastle University, who is leading the UK-based work.

Cyberplasm could also represent the first step on the road to important advances in, for example, advanced prosthetics where living muscle tissue might be engineered to contract and relax in response to stimulation from light waves or electronic signals.

"We're currently developing and testing Cyberplasm's individual components.

"We hope to get to the assembly stage within a couple of years. We believe Cyberplasm could start being used in real-world situations within five years," said Dr Frankel. (ANI)

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