Soft robotics is mainly driven by imitation of biological phenomena. The Biorobotics Institute of Sant’Anna School proposed a new medical application presenting a biocompatible soft actuated “Hybrid Heart” for Horizon 2020 funding. The “Hybrid Heart” 5-year project will be coordinated by the University of Amsterdam and carried out by a team of researchers - the Biorobotics Institute is the only Italian partner - and high-tech SMEs with experience in cardiac surgery, soft robotics and engineering.
Matteo Cianchetti, a researcher of the Biorobotics Institute, explains "We plan to use a biocompatible soft robotics shell with actuators and sensors for mimicking biological motion. The inner lining and structures will be made by in situ tissue engineering (TE), ensuring biocompatibility of blood-contacting surfaces. By building materials that mimic biological functions we may achieve the desired motion in the diseased organs and restore healthy organ function”.
This wireless and “rechargeable” artificial heart will not imitate the human heart in size and form. Similar to a heart transplant, the Hybrid Heart, as a totally implantable device that give the patients full autonomy, could replace failing hearts and offer the patients long-term treatment options.