Is it possible to eat transistors, capacitors, sensors etc? I guess No, because they are not safe to eat.
Swiss researchers imagined and presented a paper on a robot that is edible and digestible by human body. This can be used for a number of uses like exploring our body. You also don’t need to carry any food payload with it because, robot is the actual food.
The information was first appeared on IEEE Spectrum.
Researchers from EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, headed by Dario Floreano, presented a prototype of a completely edible soft pneumatic actuator made of gelatin. It probably doesn’t taste very good, but it’s biodegradable, biocompatible, and environmentally sustainable, and could enable all kinds of novel applications, as the researchers explain in their paper:
The components of such edible robots could be mixed with nutrient or pharmaceutical components for digestion and metabolization. Potential applications are disposable robots for exploration, digestible robots for medical purposes in humans and animals, and food transportation where the robot does not require additional payload because the robot is the food.
The actuator is made up of gelatin, glycerin, and water that is poured into a mold. The structure is made in such a way that it can bend when inflated and strengthen when pressure is released.
The robot is also designed as “prey robot”, that can be very helpful to know about how wild animals behave or to heal the body. Once medical components are mixed up with edible components it can also heal the body from inside. Here are some quote from the research paper given into IEEE spectrum:
Fully edible robots would help to study how wild animals collectively behave. The robots could also take a role of animals prey to observe their hunting behaviors, or to train protected animals to do predation. Once medical components are mixed into the edible composition, the robots could help preservation of wild animals or heal inside of the human body. When edible robots can be metabolized, they also function as energy storage providing an advantage in terms of increased payload with respect to non-edible robots that must be loaded with a food payload. This would be effective in rescue scenarios where the metabolizable robots can reach survivors in isolated places like inside a crevice or up on mountain. Last, but not least, since edible materials can generate electric energy, one could envisage autophagy (self-eating) function, like that of octopus, to extend their lifetime.