Will US cyborgs be the next to deploy?
A new cyborg – part machine and part biological muscle – has taken its first steps.
University of Illinois researchers, in a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, say their tiny new creature is the first robot that uses live muscle for power. The researchers, with funding from the National Science Foundation, have created a muscle-powered biological machine that can be controlled with an electric current.
It could lead to a new generation of biological robots, or “biobots.”
Researchers around the world have been hoping to use this type of technology for a range of applications, from building military robots to designing replacement organs.
Military robots have been on the U.S. military’s table for a while. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been pioneering robot research for many years, and Gen. Robert Cone, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, announced in January that he was tasked with considering the reduction of brigade combat teams from 4,000 to 3,000 soldiers – and replacing the human personnel with robots.
But humanoid robots, like humans, are very complicated, and they remain elusive for now. The advances needed to build ones that can go to war are vast: They require human dexterity and movement control, not to mention quantum computing that can achieve human “intelligence.”
Some researchers believe the solution will be to combine the machine with living tissue to create Terminator-style cyborgs. It’s still the stuff of science fiction, but the tiny biobots could be a key step forward.
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