Ever heard of a robot that you can actually eat?
If you’re a hardcore sci-fi fan then your answer might be yes, but those robots are a real thing now. Researchers from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed an edible robot that can perform several functions from within the human body.
An Edible Actuator for Ingestible Robots https://t.co/AJiY47t5zV
— IEEE Spectrum (@IEEESpectrum) October 5, 2017
Robot that you can eat
Presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vancouver last week, the prototype of the edible robot is basically a gelatin-based actuator, a component that lets a mechanism move physically. To create the actuator, researchers mixed gelatin, glycerin, and water into a mold. The structure looks like a squishy-looking finger; just like the one used in the supermarkets for handling fruits without bruising. However, the components used to create this robot not only make it edible but also biodegradable.
Don’t expect anything tasty out of this edible robot made out of gelatin, but it would have a wide variety of applications. As it is biodegradable, biocompatible and environmentally sustainable, researchers can use it in a lot of novel applications.
“The components of such edible robots could be mixed with nutrient or pharmaceutical components for digestion and metabolization,” the paper explained. “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 application of this edible robot isn’t limited to just human use. Researchers think if they can feed the animals this gelatin-based robot, it could help them study the collective behavior of the animals. This robot could also help preserve wild animals and heal inside of the human body. The research has been published in IEEE Spectrum.