\A research group at Tohoku University and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a molecular robot consisting of biomolecules, such as DNA and protein. The molecular robot was developed by integrating molecular machines into an artificial cell membrane. It can start and stop its shape-changing function in response to a specific DNA signal.
This is the first time that a molecular robotic system has been able to recognize signals and control its shape-changing function. What this means is that molecular robots could, in the near future, function in a way similar to living organisms.
The realization of a molecular robot whose components are designed at a molecular level and who can function in a small and complicated environment, such as the human body, is expected to significantly expand the possibilities of robotics engineering. The results of this study could lead to technological developments that could help solve important medical issues -- such as a treatment robot for live culturing cells and a monitoring robot for checking environmental pollution.
"The paper by Nomura and coworkers represents a major step towards the development of autonomous soft microrobots," says Dr. Friedrich Simmel, professor at the Technische Universität München. "Based on this achievement, in the future similar systems could be developed that display artificial phototaxis or chemotaxis, or similar 'intelligent' behavior."