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What do you get when you smush a bunch off live heart cells, specialized biomaterials, and electrodes into a tiny, stingray-shaped package? If you said “lunch” than you’re wrong. Instead, you get the first example of bioinspired robotic systems that can imitate nature using both electrical and organic components.

The resulting project – a 10mm long robot that can swim in water – is “composed of live heart cells, two distinct types of specialized biomaterials for structural support, and flexible electrodes.” Created by Ali Khademhosseini at UCLA Bioengineering, the little robot is the first of its kind to contain both biomaterial and electronics.

“The development of such bioinspired systems could enable future robotics that contain both biological tissues and electronic systems,” said Khademhosseini. “This advancement could be used for medical therapies such as personalized tissue patches to strengthen cardiac muscle tissue for heart attack patients.”

Obviously this little fellow isn’t doing much right now but with a few more moves and some better technology, you can imagine tiny robotic stingrays visiting you at Sea World and/or swimming through your bloodstream.

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