A new generation of live “Xenobot” robots have been created by scientists in the U.S. These are tiny life forms, which self-assemble a body from simple frog cells, do not need muscles to move and have memory capability.
These “collective” cells have the ability to work together in swarms and in the future will undertake various tasks; such as cleaning microplastics, or other pollutants and garbage from land and sea.
Last year, a team of biologists and computer experts from the universities of Tufts and Vermont had created the first “Xenobot 1.0”; microscopic biological machines from frog cells, capable of moving, pushing a load and exhibiting group behavior in flocks with other similar robots.
This year, the new “Xenobot 2.0” are improved, as they move faster, are able to navigate in different environments and can repair themselves, if they experience a fault.
The researchers —led by Professor of Biology Michael Levin of Tufts— who published the paper in the robotics journal “Science Robotics”, believe that this technology has a terrific future, which is why the two collaborating American universities have just created the new “Institute of Computer-Designed Organizations (ICDO)”, to create even more sophisticated living robots.
The “Xenobot” are named after the frog species “Xenopus laevis”, from whose embryos their cells originate.
The new robots of generation 2.0 live three to seven days longer than the previous generation 1.0, which reached up to seven days.
Their shape is spherical (with small capillary estuaries that act as “legs” or “propellers” of motion) and their size reaches half a millimeter at present, while their body is fully biodegradable when they “die”.
Previous attempts to create live robots had focused on wireless animal control (e.g. cockroaches), but this raises bioethics issues.
“Xenobots” differ because they are self-made forms only by cells, have no neurons and cannot be considered animals.
But what exactly are they? Living organisms or robots?
There is no clear answer to that. I guess there’s something in between.
You can read the scientific publication at the following address:
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