Professor Shoji Takeuchi

The University of Tokyo, Japan

Biohybrid Robotics

Humanity has developed a variety of systems and technologies to meet societal needs, ranging from humanoid robots and smartphones to self-driving cars; however, despite these advances in engineering and technology, we have not yet fully harnessed the unique functionalities found in nature for industrial applications, such as molecular recognition, material production, and self-organization. Developing artificial constructs that replicate these exceptional natural functionalities presents significant challenges. One promising approach is the integration of biological components with artificial materials to create biohybrid systems. These biohybrid robotics systems can be categorized into four groups: (i) biohybrid sensors, which detect target molecules with high selectivity and sensitivity, (ii) biohybrid reactors, which mimic biological reactions for applications such as drug testing or tissue transplantation, (iii) biohybrid actuators, which exhibit highly energy-efficient motion, and (iv) biohybrid processors, which achieve low-energy, highly parallel computing similar to the human brain. This presentation aims to discuss the integration of these device technologies within the field of biohybrid robotics.


Professor Ritsu Raman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Biological Actuators for Soft Robotics

Human beings and other biological creatures navigate unpredictable and dynamic environments by combining compliant mechanical actuators (skeletal muscle) with neural control and sensory feedback. Abiotic actuators, by contrast, have yet to match their biological counterparts in their ability to autonomously sense and adapt their form and function to changing environments. We have shown that engineered skeletal muscle actuators, controlled by neuronal networks, can generate force and power functional behaviors such as walking and pumping in a range of untethered robots. These muscle-powered robots are dynamically responsive to mechanical stimuli and are capable of complex functional behaviors like exercise-mediated strengthening and healing in response to damage. Our lab uses engineered bioactuators as a platform to understand neuromuscular architecture and function in physiological and pathological states, restore mobility after disease and damage, and power soft robots. This talk will cover the advantages, challenges, and future directions of understanding and manipulating the mechanics of biological motor control.