Scientists succeeded in bringing a robot close to everything that represents life. Dubbed as Xenobot after Xenopus laevis (the African clawed frog), from which they extract their stem cells, the robots are no more than a millimeter, 0.04 inches wide.
They are also small enough to move inside our bodies, to swim or walk, and to reach a survival rate of a few weeks without food. The Xenobots are also bond one with another, always working together. The University of Vermont explained how those are “entirely new life-forms.” As for the stem cells, they are categorized as unspecialized cells that can turn into various cell types.
How Was Xenobot Developed?
Researchers scoured the living stem cells from frog embryos, and then place them in an incubator. Then, the cells were carved and redone into a particular “body form” developed by a supercomputer – shapes “never seen in nature,” according to the study.
The cells succeeded after all the processes to function individually – skin cells linked to create structure, while pulsing heart muscle let the robot to run on its own. Xenobot even possesses a self-healing feature; when the researchers cut a robot, it healed quickly and kept working.
“These are novel living machines. They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism,” explained Joshua Bongard, part of the study.
What’s more intriguing is that the Xenobots don’t resemble the classic robots at all. They don’t appear with shiny gears or robotic body parts. Instead, they are resembling a small blob of running pinkish flesh. Researchers stated that such a fact is deliberate, that “biological machine” can gather stuff traditional robots of plastic and steel would never achieve.
The Xenobots could be utilized to a multitude of assignments, such as gathering the microplastics in the oceans, removing the radioactive waste, travel into human arteries to erase the plaque or transport medicine inside our bodies.
David Blair was a reporter for Henri Le Chat Noir, before becoming the lead editor. David has over 20 bylines and has reported on countless stories concerning all things related to science, games and technology. David studied at Birmingham University.