Scientists want to build robots made of slime

Physarum polycephalum is a plasmodium slime mould that shies away from light but moves towards food. Abdrew Adamatsky and his team of researchers at the University of the West of England wants to program this mould into engineering robots.

[The Plasmobot] will be “programmed” using light and electromagnetic stimuli to trigger chemical reactions similar to a complex piece of chemistry called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, which Adamatzky previously used to build liquid logic gates for a synthetic brain.

By understanding and manipulating these reactions, says Adamatzky, it should be possible to program Plasmobot to move in certain ways, to “pick up” objects by engulfing them and even assemble them. [New Scientist]

Single-celled organisms have already been use to control robots, this is simply taking things a step further: making a whole robot out of them.

The plan is to have the mould manipulate miniscule pieces of foam that can float on the slime to assemble components of micromachines.


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