(181k) Towards A Distributed Network of Bacteriabots: Microfluidic CHARACTERIZATION of SINGLE Channel COMMUNICATION

Behkam, B., Virginia Tech
Sahari, A. A., Virginia Tech

Mobile micro-robots have unique advantages such as the ability to access small spaces, and the potential to be employed in large numbers as inexpensive agents of distributed systems for swarm robotic applications. Due to these characteristics, micro-robots are envisioned to impact a diverse range of applications, including minimally invasive diagnosis, localized treatment of diseases, environmental monitoring and homeland security. Bio-hybrid micro-robotic systems are developed by integrating prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells within the robotic system. Combined with synthetic biology, bio-hybrid micro-robots are envisioned to be able to address the actuation, powering, communication and control challenges existing at micron length scales. The work presented here aims to take the first step towards developing a distributed network of bio-hybrid micro-robots. To this end, we utilize methods in synthetic biology to realize a network of bacteria powered swimming micro-robots (BacteriaBots) capable of robot-robot communication. In this work, QS-based synthetic gene networks are utilized to impart BacteriaBots with single channel communication capabilities. A two-layer microfluidic assay device is developed to characterize the communication between BacteriaBots. This characterization will enable design of multi-agent robotic systems that for swarm robotic applications.