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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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Biohybrid robots are synthetic biology systems

Biohybrid robots are synthetic biology systems

(p.485) Chapter 51 Biohybrid robots are synthetic biology systems
Living machines

Joseph Ayers

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes how synthetic biology and organic electronics can integrate neurobiology and robotics to form a basis for biohybrid robots and synthetic neuroethology. Biomimetic robots capture the performance advantages of animal models by mimicking the behavioral control schemes evolved in nature, based on modularized devices that capture the biomechanics and control principles of the nervous system. However, current robots are blind to chemical senses, difficult to miniaturize, and require chemical batteries. These obstacles can be overcome by integration of living engineered cells. Synthetic biology seeks to build devices and systems from fungible gene parts (gene systems coding different proteins) integrated into a chassis (induced pluripotent eukaryotic cells, yeast, or bacteria) to produce devices with properties not found in nature. Biohybrid robots are examples of such systems (interacting sets of devices). A nascent literature describes genes that can mediate organ levels of organization. Such capabilities, applied to biohybrid systems, portend truly biological robots guided, controlled, and actuated solely by life processes.

Keywords:   synthetic biology, biohybrid robots, engineered cells, organic electronics, synthetic neuroethology

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