Researchers have developed gel robots that could be used in heart transplants. They don’t have any mechanical parts at all making them perfect for residing in the body.

The gel is 3D printed by beaming light onto a light-sensitive solution and then powered up with an electrical current, which makes the gel do as instructed – pulsate when used in a heart, for example.

The method of creating the robots was innovated by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Because there are no mechanical parts built into it, how fast the parts move is determined by the thickness of the pieces and how they react to the salt solution they’re dropped into after production.

For example, the thinner the components, the faster they move. The strength of the salt solution and electrical current both have an important part to play too.

“Our 3D-printed smart gel has great potential in biomedical engineering because it resembles tissues in the human body that also contain lots of water and are very soft,” said Howon Lee, senior author of the study.

“It can be used for many different types of underwater devices that mimic aquatic life, like the octopus.”

The researchers also suggested the material could be used to help them create devices to deliver drugs to patients and diagnosing diseases.

These types of gels already exist in the medical world, but Rutgers University explained it’s how the robots are created that makes the difference.

“This study demonstrates how our 3D-printing technique can expand the design, size and versatility of this smart gel,” Lee said. “Our microscale 3D-printing technique allowed us to create unprecedented motions.”