Cyborg Stingray Swims Toward Light, Breaks New Ground

In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 photo, a tissue-engineered robot swims in a tank of water in a laboratory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The stingray-shaped robot, capable of paddling in water after exposure to blue light, has a gold skeleton, silicone fins and the heart muscle cells of a rat. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 photo, a tissue-engineered robot swims in a tank of water in a laboratory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The stingray-shaped robot, capable of paddling in water after exposure to blue light, has a gold skeleton, silicone fins and the heart muscle cells of a rat. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — The idea of taking apart a rat’s heart and transforming it into a tissue-engineered stingray first came to Kevin Kit Parker during a trip to the New England Aquarium with his daughter.

Four years later, a robotic ray that swims toward light has made the cover of Science Magazine and is pushing the limits of what’s possible in the design of machines powered by living cells.

A research team based at Harvard University’s Disease Biophysics Group, which Parker directs, created the translucent, penny-sized ray with a gold skeleton, silicone fins and the heart muscle cells of a rat.

It’s remote-controlled, able to move toward pulses of blue light.

John Long, a Vassar College professor of biology and cognitive science, says the creation could spark new research into autonomous, part-living machines.

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