Room temperature operable autonomously moving bio-microrobot powered by insect dorsal vessel tissue

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e38274. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038274. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Living muscle tissues and cells have been attracting attention as potential actuator candidates. In particular, insect dorsal vessel tissue (DVT) seems to be well suited for a bio-actuator since it is capable of contracting autonomously and the tissue itself and its cells are more environmentally robust under culturing conditions compared with mammalian tissues and cells. Here we demonstrate an autonomously moving polypod microrobot (PMR) powered by DVT excised from an inchworm. We fabricated a prototype of the PMR by assembling a whole DVT onto an inverted two-row micropillar array. The prototype moved autonomously at a velocity of 3.5 × 10(-2) µm/s, and the contracting force of the whole DVT was calculated as 20 µN. Based on the results obtained by the prototype, we then designed and fabricated an actual PMR. We were able to increase the velocity significantly for the actual PMR which could move autonomously at a velocity of 3.5 µm/s. These results indicate that insect DVT has sufficient potential as the driving force for a bio-microrobot that can be utilized in microspaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Female
  • Lepidoptera / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular*
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Temperature
  • Tissue Culture Techniques