Xenobots: The living machinesDate: 21 January 2020 Tags: Biotechnology
Scientists in the United States have created the world’s first “living machines”, tiny robots built from the cells of the African clawed frog, that can move around on their own.
They have named the millimetre-wide robots “xenobots”, after the species of aquatic frog found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Sudan to South Africa, Xenopus laevis.
Scientists have repurposed living cells scraped from frog embryos and assembled them into entirely new life-forms.
Their primary goal is to use the cutting-edge critters to better understand how cells of all sorts communicate with one another.
The xenobots can move toward a target, and pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient) and heal themselves after being cut.
The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at the university, and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University.
The bot can perform functions like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, travelling in arteries to scrape out plaque.
The latest research is a breakthrough because it designs, for the first time ever, completely biological machines from the ground up.
The use of living cells to achieve the simulated designs and behaviors is an especially promising indication of our future ability to generate bio-compatible robots, and soft robots that leverage the resiliency and intelligence of living tissues.