Researchers out of Japan have now released video footage of what may be the world’s first stable living tissue muscle structure made specifically for use in robotics. Of course, this isn’t the first time this kind of bio-engineered living tissue has been proposed. However, the researchers, operating out of the University of Tokyo, say that this is the first instance where they nearly mimic those found in humans. Specifically, this is the first time such muscles have been created which can adequately and efficiently handle the shrinking and contraction over extended periods of time without effectively locking up. Moreover, the tissues are able to recreate a full 90-degree range of motion. For the video, the team has shown its lab-generated living muscles performing the simple task of picking up and setting down an object using robotic “fingers.” Eventually, the team hopes to develop them much further, allowing for complex actions.
In the long term, that means a goal to recreate hands, arms, and other body parts as needed. The implications of that are fairly obvious since there are a number of highly complex jobs or tasks ordinarily performed by humans which they could eventually take over for. Of course, there have been concerns raised about the stability of a jobs market that includes such efficient and maneuverable machines. Setting aside other concerns about the ethics of creating a living machine hybrid or what it would mean to incorporate A.I. into that, there is an up-side. The robotics which could stem from the research could remove humans from tasks that would usually put an inordinate amount of strain on humans – and more importantly on human bodies, often resulting in injuries over time.
There’s still plenty of time to sort out those kinds of a dilemmas, though. As is usually the case with technologies that lie this close to the bleeding edge, that advanced use of living tissue robotics is still out in the future. That is technically the foreseeable future but it isn’t necessarily likely to happen in the next five to ten years. So nobody needs to worry about any serious issues stemming from these just yet.