The science of soft robotics is booming, and researchers at the University of Illinois have just pushed it one step further with these centimeter-long biobots powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electrical field.

Scientists have developed walking robots powered by heart muscles in the past, but those robots were difficult to control due to the continuous pulsing of the muscles. This new biobot uses skeletal muscle that mimics the muscle-tendon-bone structure in animals and humans.

"Biology is tremendously powerful, and if we can somehow learn to harness its advantages for useful applications, it could bring about a lot of great things," study leader Rashid Bashir said in a statement. The researchers imagine the biobots could eventually be used in medical applications or environmental cleanup.