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This robot is part machine, part sea slug

Case Western Reserve University scientists develop a "biohybrid" robot that can endure harsh underwater conditions better than all-machine bots.

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The hybrid-bot will operate on the mouth of a sea slug (not this fabulous one, but an aplysia californica from California).
Robert Bolland

We have robots that play soccer, offer companionship and even mow the lawn. What's next for the industry? Robots that run on sea slugs.

A "biohybrid" robot from scientists at Case Western Reserve University could radically change how underwater bots are used, researchers said in a release earlier this month. For the part-animal, part-machine creature, the group paired the mouth of a California sea slug with a 2-inch 3D-printed body, which moves when stimulated with electric shocks. The slug-powered robot can withstand harsh underwater climates better than metal-only robots, according to the release.

This comes just weeks after Harvard researchers developed an even smaller robot with rat heart cells. The Case Western team hopes to create a fully organic bot in the future that would cost little to make and that could decompose in the water if left behind. The result would be significantly less pollution and damage to the environment, said the researchers in the release.