Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the word “robot” in his seminal 1920 work, “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” In this dark piece of sci-fi, the term described flesh-and-blood laborers made from organic matter and forced to perform menial factory work.
Today, “robot” is largely used to describe an entirely different type of worker — an automaton usually made from steel and plastic. But that connotation may soon begin to swing back towards Capek’s organic vision.
A team of researchers came up with a new design for remote-controlled walking robots that run on lab-grown muscle tissue and light, according to a recent paper published in Science Robotics. Their unique biohybrid even bot set a new speed record for this kind of part-machine, part-meat system.