Scientists create "xenobots" using living cells

‘100 Percent of Frog DNA’: Scientists Tout Creation of First-Ever ‘Living’ Robots

"These are novel living machines", says Joshua Bongard, the University of Vermont expert who co-led the new research.

Designing the xenobots required the use of a supercomputer, and an algorithm that could virtually put together a few hundred frog heart and skin cells in different configurations (somewhat like LEGO bricks), and simulate the results. At the same time, however, these xenobots are remarkably lifelike in that they're comprised entirely of biological materials, feed off energy supplied by their cells, move with intent and even fix their injuries. These scientists designed and built a programmable living organism that can move around and heal themselves too. Then, the cells were cut and reshaped into specific "body forms" designed by a supercomputer - forms "never seen in nature", according to a news release from the University of Vermont. They may also help in carrying medicine inside a patient's body or conduct similar work.

Traditional robots "degrade over time and can produce harmful ecological and health side effects", researchers said in the study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

AI methods automatically design diverse candidate lifeforms in simulation (top row) to perform some desired function, and transferable designs are then created using a cell-based construction toolkit to realize living systems (bottom row) with the predicted behaviors. The parable is an illusion: these blobs consist of just two things, skin cells and heart cells from frogs. While the scientists say they don't evolve-and in fact, can be programmed to die at a certain point by modulating how much food reserves they're given-the biological machines could theoretically be weaponized, and it's possible that the A.I. that designs their parent models could be programmed with nefarious intentions.

Tiny "Dwelling robots" named Xenobots have been created from frog embryos and so they may very well be used to destroy most cancers cells or take away microplastics from the oceans. Then, using tiny forceps and an even tinier electrode, the cells were cut and joined under a microscope into a close approximation of the designs specified by the computer. The xenobots were able to move in a coherent fashion up to days or weeks at a time, the team found, powered by embryonic energy stores. The 'bots were even able to fix significant damage, said Kriegman.

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Creations that blur the line between robots and living organisms are popular subjects in science fiction; think of the killer machines in the "Terminator" movies or the replicants from the world of "Blade Runner". The xenobots can regenerate, and are entirely biodegradable when they die. (Hence the name "xenobots.") These were separated into single cells and left to incubate.

In a take a look at to see what would occur when a xenobot used to be nick almost entirely in half of, the bot routinely stitched itself together and used to be ready to get back heading in the suitable route. It's 100 percent frog DNA - but these are not frogs. "That fear is not unreasonable", Levin says.

In regards to how the frog cells' genomes are edited to make the new living machines, it seems that's unclear.

"If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules", shared Levin.

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