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An Edible Actuator for Ingestible Robots


Gelatin-based grippers.

Researchers in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne Laboratory of Intelligent Systems are demonstrating a prototype of a completely edible soft pneumatic actuator made of gelatin.

Credit: EPFL

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in Switzerland's Laboratory of Intelligent Systems recently unveiled a prototype for a soft, edible pneumatic actuator fabricated from gelatin, which can serve as a crucial mechanism for ingestible robots.

The element bends when inflated and straightens out again when pressure is lowered.

The researchers note because gelatin can melt, the edible actuator also could repair itself.

"The components of such edible robots could be mixed with nutrient or pharmaceutical components for digestion and metabolization," they say. "Potential applications are disposable robots for exploration, digestible robots for medical purposes in humans and animals, and food transportation where the robot does not require additional payload because the robot is the food."

The researchers also note edible robots could be used to study the collective behavior of animals in the wild, while autophagy (self-eating) is another potential application, which would extend the robot's lifecycle.

From IEEE Spectrum
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