The US scientists who created the first living robots say the life forms, known as xenobots, can now reproduce – and in a way not seen in plants and animals.
Formed from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), from which it takes its name, xenobots are less than a millimetre (0.04 inches) wide.
The tiny blobs were first unveiled in 2020 after experiments showed that they could move, work together in groups and self-heal.
Now the scientists that developed them at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Top Site Info Harvard UniversityвЂ™s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have discovered an entirely new form of biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.
вЂњI was astounded by it,вЂќ said 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.
вЂњFrogs 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.вЂќ
As seen below, the C-shaped parent xenobots collect and compress loose stem cells together into piles which can mature into offspring.
Stem cells are unspecialised cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types.
To make the xenobots, the researchers scraped living stem cells from frog embryos and left them to incubate.ThereвЂ™s no manipulation of genes involved.
вЂњMost people think of robots as made of metals and ceramics but itвЂ™s not so much what a robot is made from but what it does, which is act on its own on behalf of people,вЂќ said Josh Bongard, a computer science professor and robotics expert at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study.
вЂњIn that way itвЂ™s a robot but itвЂ™s also clearly an organism made from genetically unmodified frog cell.вЂќ
Bongard said they found that the xenobots, which were initially sphere-shaped and made from around 3000 cells, could replicate.But it happened rarely and only in specific circumstances.
The xenobots used вЂњkinetic replicationвЂќ – 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, Bongard said.
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.
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.
As seen below, the parent rotates a large ball of stem cells that is maturing into a new xenobot.
вЂњThe AI didnвЂ™t program these machines in the way we usually think about writing code.It shaped and sculpted and came up with this Pac-Man shape,вЂќ Bongard said.
вЂњThe shape is, in essence, the program. The shape influences how the xenobots behave to amplify this incredibly surprising process.вЂќ
The xenobots are very early technology – think of a 1940s computer – and donвЂ™t yet have any practical applications.If you have any inquiries concerning exactly where and how to use Top Site Info (just click the following article), you can contact us at the web site.