What is this living robot?
Scientists have just created a living robot first time in the world, Xenobot. This is a living and self-healing robot. But technically this creature is neither a traditional or classical robot and nor a kind of specie of known animals. Instead, it’s a new class of artificial and living programmable organisms.
This creature is made of 5000(approx) different stem cells. Stem cells are unspecialized cells with having an ability to grow in any kind of cell. The cells are obtained from an African clawed frog (Xenopus levies).
Then the cells were reshaped into special body shapes developed by using advance computer system algorithm and A.I. These robots are small enough(0.04 inches wide) to travel inside a human body. These cells can survive for weeks without any special nutrients also can swim and work in a group together.
These would be “fully new life-forms,” the University of Vermont said, which led the research with the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University.
How it was created?
First of all the research, a supercomputer was used by the research group. It was to check thousands of random designs of simple living objects that might execute certain activities.
The computer was programmed with an “evolutionary algorithm” and AI to predict which organisms are likely to exhibit practical tasks, like shifting towards a target and much more.
Scientists then replicated the simulated structures using frog skin or heart cells. Which were joined manually using microsurgical instruments? In these assemblies the heart cells contract and relax, providing the movement of the organism.
“These are the novel living devices,” Joshua Bongard, one of the University of Vermont’s leading researchers, said in the news release. “They are neither a typical robot nor a known animal species. It is a modern artifact class, a living and programmable organism.”
The best feature of the Living robot.
This living robot doesn’t have any mechanical parts no matter the parts and circuit board. Is totally made us of cells so it has some advantages. As traditional robots degrade over time and may have adverse effects on the environment and health. But living robots are biological machines thus more environmentally friendly and safer for human medical use and more.
Possible applications of the living robot.
These can be used to scavenge contaminants or radioactive materials from confined or dangerous environments. Also, Xenobots equipped with precisely shaped “pouches” could be capable of transporting drugs into human bodies.
Also, in the future, it may be possible that future living robots will be made up of patients’ own cells. This will good to repair and cure targeted cancer cells. And it will also help in, best response and minimizing side effects in any rare case.
“With this living robot we can repair birth defects, reprogram tumors into healthy and normal tissue, regeneration after injury or degenerative diseases and even can defeat human aging,” said researchers of this living robot.
That clearly means we can regenerate cut and injured parts. And even stop our aging giving us a very long life.
Aside from all of these practice tasks, xenobots could also help to learn about cell biology for researcher. But the problem is that their life span period is a bit small. As they can only live quite over a week. And, in nutrients rich environment their life span could be up to several weeks. Another problem is that they can’t reproduce and evolve naturally.
Microbots vs CDOs
Microbots are made of metal, plastic, and ceramics. But metal degrades over time and any small amount of metal inside our organs can easily damage our organs. But these living robots are completely biocompatible and biodegradable.
Living robots as a weapon!
Some may think, these living robots can be modified or programmed to develop a weaponized CDO. And the answer is yes. But researchers said “we believe that, as this technology matures, regulation of its use and misuse should be a high priority. Again though, the possibility of misuse is much, much smaller than what is being done with self-reproducing agents like bacteria, viruses, and gene drives.” So, yes these can be used as a weapon, but less efficient.
Also, these living robots don’t evolve and can’t increase their population in any uncontrolled situation, since they don’t have any reproductive organs. Even they become non-functional and die after seven days.
“At the moment though it is difficult to see how an AI could create harmful organisms any easier than a talented biologist with bad intentions could,” said researchers.
If you want to know more in detail with FAQs on this topic. I will recommend you to visit their official website.
Reference sources: Dezeen, cdorgs.github.io