Scientists have created what they claim are the first "living robots": entirely new life-forms created out of living cells, foreign media reported on Tuesday. Levin asks. "You look at the cells we've been building our xenobots with, and, genomically, they're frogs". This resulted in biological machines designed from the ground up, unlike other organisms manipulated to perform tasks. The winning designs can propel themselves toward a target and deliver a payload, and can also heal themselves when torn apart.
A lead researcher from the University of Vermont, Joshua Bongard, stated that they are genuinely novel living machines. The scientists can claim to have created life, albeit repurposed from another living organism: a frog has been turned into an entirely different organism.
It is hoped the millimetre-wide bots could one day be used to swim around human bodies to specific areas requiring medicine, or to gather microplastic in the oceans. Xenobots being made of biological material makes it safe for internal drug delivery.
One of the most fascinating parts of this already-fascinating work, for me, is the resilience of these xenobots. The team described the major breakthrough in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In recent years, there have been major leaps forward in that discipline, with genetic editing and the creation of artificial organisms.
Indeed, the ability to build novel organisms from scratch might seem a bit hubristic and scary - and no doubt, we'll eventually have to monitor and regulate these biological inventions as they become more advanced - but the benefits are simply too important to ignore. They then used evolutionary algorithms, which in a certain sense replicate the processes of natural selection, to see how, for example, a xenobot structure helps to advance it. The cells were joined under a microscope into an approximation of the designs specified by the computer.
Scientists in the United States claim to have created zombie robots from reanimated frog cells, giving rise to a living organism never seen or created before which can perform important tasks while healing itself.
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Assembled into forms never seen in nature, the cells began to work together.
These reconfigurable organisms were shown to be able move in a coherent fashion - and explore their watery environment for days or weeks, powered by embryonic energy stores. They even spontaneously cooperated to move around in circles, pushing pellets into a central location.
The xenobots are nothing like the Terminator or even your Roomba: there's no metal involved in them whatsoever. You get something that researchers are calling the world's first "living machine".
Theoretically, the xenobots would possibly per chance perhaps characteristic as biodegradeable nanobots. We can certainly quibble about whether or not these robots qualify as being truly alive, but they're most certainly a precursor to fully formed artificially constructed lifeforms. When sliced, they are able to regenerate and stitch themselves back together, something few other robots can do, and in addition to medical purposes, they could be put to use cleaning up radioactive waste or microplastics.
"If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules", said Mr Levin in a statement.