• By The Financial District

U.S. Scientists Claim World's First Living Robots Can Now Reproduce

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, Katie Hunt and Jessie Yeung reported for CNN.


Photo Insert: A manufactured quadruped organism, 650-750 microns in diameter—a bit smaller than a pinhead.



Formed from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) from which it takes its name, xenobots are less than a millimeter (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 Harvard University'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. The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PNAS on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.



"I was astounded by it," 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.


"Frogs 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."


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The C-shaped parent xenobots collect and compress loose stem cells together into piles which can mature into offspring.


Stem cells are unspecialized 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. There's no manipulation of genes involved.


Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

"Most people think of robots as made of metals and ceramics but it's not so much what a robot is made from but what it does, which is act on its own on behalf of people," said Josh Bongard, a computer science professor and robotics expert at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study.


"In that way it's a robot but it's also clearly an organism made from genetically unmodified frog cell."



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