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Robot piloted by a ball of algae is powered by photosynthesis

By placing a marimo, a naturally forming ball of algae, inside a plastic shell, researchers have created a robot that can move through water powered only by photosynthesis

Technology 14 January 2022

Algae robot

The robot is able to navigate obstacles

Phillips, N., Draper, T.C., Mayne, R. et al. (2022)

A robot piloted by a ball of algae can swim through water and move around obstacles, powered only by photosynthesis.

Neil Phillips at the University of the West of England, UK, and his colleagues wanted to build a robot with no electronic parts, meaning it wouldn’t interfere with any electromagnetically sensitive measurement instruments. The team inserted a marimo, a ball of algae that forms naturally in freshwater currents, inside a 3D-printed plastic spherical shell equipped with vents. When the group submerged the …