Editorial Photo Credit: PopTika
Xenobots, the world’s very first living robots, created from the stem cells of the African clawed frog and measure less than a millimeter wide – now have the ability to reproduce. This form of reproduction has never been seen in either plants or animals. After being introduced to the world in 2020, the Xenobots showed they could move, work together in groups and self heal.
CNN is reporting that “scientists at University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, who created the first living robots, said they have discovered an entirely new form of biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.”
Michael Levin, a professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University who was co-lead author of the new research, had this to say, “I was astounded by it. Frogs have a way of reproducing that they normally use but when you liberate (the cells) from the rest of the embryo and you give them a chance to figure out how to be in a new environment, not only do they figure out a new way to move, but they also figure out apparently a new way to reproduce.”
Josh Bongard, a computer science professor and robotics expert at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study added, “The xenobots used “kinetic replication” — a process that is known to occur at the molecular level but has never been observed before at the scale of whole cells or organisms.” With the help of artificial intelligence, the researchers then tested billions of body shapes to make the xenobots more effective at this type of replication. The supercomputer came up with a C-shape that resembled Pac-Man, the 1980s video game. They found it was able to find tiny stem cells in a petri dish, gather hundreds of them inside its mouth, and a few days later the bundle of cells became new xenobots.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PNAS.
Read more here: CNN