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The use of live microbial cells as microscale robots is an attractive premise, primarily because they are easy to produce and to fuel. In this paper, we study the motion control of magnetotactic Tetrahymena pyriformis cells. Magnetotactic T. pyriformis is produced by introducing artificial magnetic dipole into the cells. Subsequently, they can be steered by using an external magnetic field. We observe that the external magnetic field can only be used to affect the swimming direction of the cells, while the swimming velocity depends largely on the cells’ own propulsion. Feedback information for control is obtained from a computer vision system that tracks the cell. The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, we construct a discrete-time model for the cell dynamics that is based on first principle. Subsequently, we identify the model parameters using the Least Squares approach. Second, we formulate a model predictive approach for feedback control of magnetotactic T. pyriformis. Both the model fitness and the performance of the feedback controller are verified using experimental data.

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