A team of Harvard researchers built a living, robot stingray out of rat hearts

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Jul 11, 2016, 11:39 AM EDT

Sure, robots are a dime a dozen these days — but what about a living stingray built from rat hearts? Yeah, this Harvard team has you covered.

The team built a robotic stingray from rat heart cells, silicone, gold and genetic engineering capable of “flexing” and swimming just like a regular stingray. Just, you know, way more terrifying. The ‘bot is comprised of four layers: The body is formed by a silicone substate, the skeleton is gold wire, silicone insulates the skeleton, and a covering of 200,000 genetically engineered rat cells.

The rat cells are specifically designed to contract under a specific wavelength of light, and when done at the proper rate, it causes the stingray to swim. It also follows the light source, so it can effectively be remote-controlled (though it would die outside of the controlled lab environment). As far as practical applications go, this one doesn’t get much further than nightmare fodder. 

But the really interesting implications are the 9.0 or 10.0 versions of this tech. Eventually, the research team hopes the processes could be used to effectively create genetically engineered hearts, which could save countless lives.

Check out the tech in action below and let us know what you think:


(Via Popular Mechanics)