Cell-Mimicking Robotics

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Group Design Project
The development of a robotic system for public outreach events that mimics the movement patterns and behaviours of an animal cell
Group Members
Emma Bryant, Timothy Denyer, Piers Durnford, Henry Elsner-Gearing, Jack Quiddington, Lewis Ridout, Kai Hui Wu

In today’s world, direct engagement with those outside of science is critical not only to communicating scientific discoveries, but also to promoting an atmosphere of trust between scientists and the public. The primary aim of this project was to produce a biologically accurate mechanical model of a cell for university open days and engagement activities. It was accomplished through developing the CellBot - a robot that replicates the processes of animal cell movement.

The CellBot uses linear actuators and electromagnets to represent cellular movement. This is characterised by the extension of the arm, the attachment of the magnet to the metal surface, the retraction of the arm and the final detachment of the magnet. The CellBot uses microswitches and light dependant resistors to interact with and navigate its environment. These represent the interaction mechanisms attributed to animal cells.

The robot utilizes cheap manufacturing methods in the form of 3D printed components and laser cut MDF. Design of the final model was also influenced by field testing taken place at the Winchester Science Centre, where the system proved engaging to the public. This, combined with feedback from the event, influenced the final iteration of the model.

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