Professor Sylvain Martel and other researchers from the NanoRobotics Laboratory of the École Polytechnique de Montréal has found a way to manipulate flagellated bacteria with magnets and computers to do his bidding. In the above video they are shown building a tiny pyramid shape. Someday they hope to use this technique to do more useful things, like building robots, very tiny robots. IEEE Spectrum explains:
One of their current projects is developing an autonomous bacterial microrobot. They plan to use standard CMOS processes to create a chip containing both electronics and bacteria. The bacteria would reside in micro-reservoirs designed to generate thrust. For control, small conductors inside each reservoir would produce magnetic fields.
Several of these microrobots could then be used to perform tasks collectively, perhaps one day swimming inside our bodies, delivering drugs, detecting disease, and fixing an organ here, a blood vessel there. Who knew bacteria could be good robots?