The combination of cells and tissues with soft robotics can enable the fabrication of biologicalmachines with the ability to produce force and motion in response to controllable external signaling. The demandto respond to stimuli and exhibit controlled movement merit the use of skeletal muscle as a contractile powersource for soft robots. The lack of significant spontaneous contractility, as well as the ability to interface withmultiple other mammalian cell types, allows for more precise control over actuation via external input, and makesskeletal muscle an ideal platform for producing locomotion in ‘living’ cellular systems. We have developed a cellextracellularmatrix (ECM) muscle strip that, upon electrical stimulation, contracts with sufficient force to deforma 3D printed hydrogel structure and move the machine forward. However, cells within the muscle strip secreteproteases to remodel their immediate environment, leading to tissue breakdown and eventual device failure.Understanding matrix remodeling and characterizing the manner in which cells interact with their extracellularmatrix and other cell types is necessary for machine design and preventing failure.
Additional info to come.