Microrobotic visual control of motile cells using high-speed tracking system

Naoko Ogawa, Hiromasa Oku, Koichi Hashimoto, Masatoshi Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a visual control system for motile cells. Our goal is to control microorganisms as microscale smart robots for various applications. As a first step, we have developed a visual feedback control system for Paramecium caudatum cells. In order to ensure both detailed measurements and a large working space, "lock-on" tracking of a free-swimming cell with a high frame rate is essential. In our system, high-speed (1-kHz frame rate) tracking hardware and software are used for the continuous observarion of moving cells with high magnification. Cells swim in a chamber, and their positions and other properties are measured and computed in real time. The chamber position is visually controlled automatically to track a specific cell. The cell motion is controlled electrically by utilizing the galvanotaxis (intrinsic reaction to electrical stimulus) of microorganisms. Experimental results for open-loop control (periodic zigzag motion) and closed-loop control (trapping within a small region that is 1 mm wide) demonstrate the possibility of using microorganisms as micromachines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-712
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Aug


  • Control
  • Galvanotaxis
  • Micromachine
  • Microorganism
  • Paramecium
  • Tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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