The team was trying to find out from the mathematical model if they could build a living microbiome on a nonliving host and control the host through the microbiome. The way they did that was by taking well-characterised and robust equations from bacteria, that describe bacterial behaviour, and linking those equations to equations and models that describe simple robotic behaviours.
By linking these equations, the scientists were able to simulate how the bacteria would interact with its robot host.Incredibly, the models also showed the bacteria-robot hybrid taking on behaviours similar to higher-order animals when the robot was given the ability to talk back to the bacteria.
With such promising findings from the theoretical study, Ruder and his colleagues are now planning to combine bacteria and robots for real, which will be the true test of their model’s accuracy. “The final step will be to take the engineered living cells that we now have in the laboratory with the robotic systems that we now have and link them together with an interface technology called microfluidics,” he said.