Scientists have created living robots called ‘xenobots’ from cells scraped from frogs

As the rise of artificial intelligence continues, scientists have created what can be described as the world’s first living robots. Xenobots, as they are described, were created by using living cells scraped from frogs.
living robots
Scientists are the University of Vermont have created what they claim to be the world’s first living robots. Photo: University of Vermont.

Tiny beings

The name xenobots is in fact derived from an African frog, from which researchers were able to derive stem cells. Xenobots are absolutely tiny, measuring less than a millimeter, and are small enough to travel within the human body.

These living entities can both walk and swim, are able to survive for several weeks without any sustenance, and work together in groups in order to achieve certain goals. Researchers at the University of Vermont, involved with conducting the research, describe them as entirely new lifeforms.

Stems cells are used, as these are cells with no speciality, which then have the ability to morph into various forms. Researchers were able to acquire living cells from frog embryos via a scraping process, before leaving them to incubate over a period of time.

living robots
This image of a manufactured quadruped organism has been vastly expanded, as its real size is smaller than a pinhead. Photo: University of Vermont.

Anatomical forms

Once this process was completed, cells could then evolve into various anatomical forms, all of which were designed with the help of supercomputers. And scientists from the University of Vermont stated that the forms created have never previously been seen in the natural world.

Xenobots have been able to demonstrate cells working of their own volition, with skin cells bonding in order to form an unusual anatomical structure. Meanwhile, pulsing heart muscle cells enabled the nano robots to move on their own. The xenobot entities even have the ability to heal themselves; when scientists sliced one of the robots, it mended itself, and was able to keep moving as a consequence.

“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,” Joshua Bongard, one of the lead researchers at the University of Vermont, commented.

living robots
Researchers are hopeful that the living robots will eventually be able to assist with cellular studies. Photo: Pixabay.

Scientists at the University of Vermont deliberately designed xenobots to be significantly different from traditional robots, meaning that they do not feature robotic arms or the sort of metallic and shiny appearance that we associate with robotic technology. Xenobots more resemble blobs of pink flesh, with the biological machine created able to achieve things, and participate in activities, which are not possible with typical robots manufactured from steel and plastic.

Damage resistant

Another advantage of xenobots and other potentially similar nanobots is that they are highly resistant to environmental damage. Traditional robots “degrade over time and can produce harmful ecological and health side effects,” the study associated with the research noted.

It is hoped that xenobots can be involved in a variety of useful tasks in the future, with the research having been partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In particular, it is hoped that xenobots can help researchers delve into the world of cell biology, opening the door to future advancements in human health and longevity.

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