Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a hybrid between robotics and muscle tissue.
Scientists in Japan are a step closer to creating a genuine "cyborg," said George Dvorsky at Gizmodo. Researchers have worked for years on biohybrid robots, in which muscle tissue grown in a lab is attached to a robotic skeleton to help machines grasp objects and move. But over time, the engineered muscle tissue typically degrades and loses function.
Now, University of Toyko researchers have created a "flexible finger-like robotic joint" with muscles that act more like living tissue. They incorporated electrodes to induce muscle contractions, as well as a type of stem cell that can mature into muscle cells, and then used two muscles in antagonistic pairs, with one contracting and the other expanding, just like in the human body. "The fact that they were exerting opposing forces on each other stopped them deteriorating," said Shoji Takeuchi, one of the team leaders.