Illinois engineers create naturally walking rat-bots

Published April 28, 2020

Adding living muscle cells to plastic skeletons was a start. Now University of Illinois researchers have added the lumbar spinal cords of rats to their robots to create “spinobots.” Not creepy at all:
The researchers saw spontaneous muscle contractions in the spinobots, signaling that the desired neuro-muscular junctions had formed and the two cell types [muscle and neuron] were communicating.
[Adding glutamate] caused the muscle to contract and the legs to move in a natural walking rhythm. When the glutamate was rinsed away, the spinobots stopped walking.

Artist’s conception