SWITZERLAND: Researchers develop edible robots made of gelatin
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SWITZERLAND: Researchers develop edible robots made of gelatin

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SWITZERLAND: Researchers develop edible robots made of gelatin

A technology that could bring us closer to edible robots is underway as a new paper released by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) details the creation of gelatin-based actuators.

It’s an admittedly strange dream, one the team hasn’t quite wrapped its head around at this early stage. In a conversation with TechCrunch, Dario Floreano, the director of the school’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, admits that the team may have put the cart in front of the horse in their research. The work was apparently born out of a challenge to create something new, rather than the desire to address any specific functionality.

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“A year ago [grad student and co-author Jun Shintake] came to me and said, ‘we are doing all of these bio-inspired robots, but biological systems are eaten and our systems are not’,” he explains. “I thought that’s very interesting. Food and robots have very different constraints and properties. Even before thinking about what we could make out of them, I though it was a very interesting challenge to see if we can marry these two fields.”

Floreano lists off a number of potential applications for edible robots, including food that can walk itself to hotter or colder locations or inch its way toward the human or animal it’s looking to feed.

What’s more immediately compelling, however, is the possibility of delivering automated medication, as touched upon in a recent Recode article that helped bring the EPFL study to wider attention.

 

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