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When Is a Robot Not Mechanical? When It's an Android
9/10/2012

Made of silicone and rat heart cells, the Medusoid engineered jellyfish's muscles contract like a real jellyfish when placed in liquid and shocked.   (Source: California Institute of Technology/Harvard University)
Made of silicone and rat heart cells, the Medusoid engineered jellyfish's muscles contract like a real jellyfish when placed in liquid and shocked.
(Source: California Institute of Technology/Harvard University)

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Jack Rupert, PE
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Living Tissue
Jack Rupert, PE   9/17/2012 11:51:01 AM
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Since the article mentioned that that the device (maybe not the right word there) using living tissue, I was wondering what they are doing to keep it alive?  Is it simply extracting the nutrients it needs out of the solution it is operating in?  Taking that thought one step further, what is the life-span of something like this and how are the non-living parts recycled with new heart muscle?

By the way, I was thinking the same thing that naperlou said.  From the title, I was wondering about a robotic cell phone.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Ann R. Thryft   9/18/2012 12:38:22 PM
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Rob, as I mentioned, several trends are coming together and interacting to boost robotics development, including open source software and cheaper and better electronics (such as cameras and MEMS gyros and other sensors). No doubt motion control advances figure in there, too. Did you have some specific one sin mind? In addition, the Medusoid is an example of the emergence of biorobotics we're starting to see more of.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Living Tissue
Ann R. Thryft   9/18/2012 12:56:48 PM
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Great question, Jack. I think the answer lies more in the realm of  biotech than robotics, at least for now. Does anyone know?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Rob Spiegel   9/18/2012 1:45:15 PM
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What made me curious, Ann, was the growing number of robotic developments that don't seem to be specifically tied to solving problems. Seems like a lot of the developments are raw research -- which I think if great. I would guess that part of it is that working on robots is fun.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Ann R. Thryft   9/19/2012 12:56:33 PM
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Thanks for explaining, Rob. From what I've seen, most of the new, exploding research is aimed at solving very specific problems, and much of it is being funded by the military. A considerably smaller amount, such as Medusoid, is aimed at fundamental, or "raw", research, but a lot of that looks applicable to some the purpose-driven work.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creepy with a ton of possibilities
Rob Spiegel   9/19/2012 1:32:17 PM
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Interesting that the military has such a large role in robotics developments, Ann. I would imagine it's like an iceberg -- what the militrary reveals is probably a small portion of the overall work in this area. A good portion of it is probably secret.

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