Xenobots, the first living robots in the world, are now able to reproduce: “It’s deep”
Sam Kriegman and Douglas Blackiston
The the world’s first living robots, known as xenobots, have learned to self-replicate, according to the scientists who developed them.
Xenobots – which are designed by computers and created by hand from the stem cell of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis, from which its name is derived – were introduced to the world in 2020. At the time , scientists announced that the organisms healed themselves and could survive for weeks without food, according to CNN.
Now, experts have discovered that xenobots – which look like drops in appearance – have the ability to reproduce in “entirely new” ways, according to scientists at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and the United States. Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. said Monday in a Press release.
Scientists have found that xenobots are able to “put together hundreds” of individual cells and “put together baby” organisms in their mouths, which become functional new xenobots within days, according to the press release.
âWith the right design, they’ll replicate spontaneously,â said Josh Bongard, professor of computer science and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who helped lead the research.
“People have thought for quite a long time that we have worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate itself. But this is something that has never been observed before,” added co-author Douglas Blackiston, Ph .D., Senior. scientist at Tufts University and the Wyss Institute.
âIt’s deep,â said Michael Levin, professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University. “These cells have the genome of a frog, but, freed from becoming tadpoles, they use their collective intelligence, a plasticity, to do something amazing.”
Never miss a story – sign up for PEOPLEthe free daily newsletter of to stay up to date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to gripping human interest stories.
While the idea of âârobots capable of reproducing on their own may seem frightening, a scientist involved in the research says it doesn’t “keep me awake at night.”
“We are working to understand this property: replication. The world and technologies change rapidly. It is important, for society as a whole, that we study and understand how it works,” Bongard said in the press release, noting that having a better understanding of this type of self-replicating biotechnology can have many practical uses, including for regenerative medicine.
“If we knew how to tell collections of cells to do what we wanted them to do, at the end of the day, that’s regenerative medicine, it’s the solution to traumatic injuries, birth defects, cancer and aging, âBongard added. “All of these different issues are there because we don’t know how to predict and control which groups of cells are going to build up. Xenobots are a new platform for us to learn.”