Robot BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first ‘living robots’

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Robot BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first ‘living robots’ 1

A team of US scientists have created the first ever living machines after placing stem cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots. The major breakthrough in robotic creations allows the machines to move around using their own steam as fuel. The small bot, named xenobots after the African claw frogs scientific name Xenopus laevis, has two legs attached to a stumpy chest which move without the need of a power source.

Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, said: “These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth.

“They are living, programmable organisms.”

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Another major benefit of using living organisms in a robot is that it is able to heal itself.

When using metals and plastics, if there is a break, the machine, which is less than one millimetre long, will have to be manually repaired by a human.

However, by using stem cells from a living being, the tiny bot will heal itself, much like a scar or a bone fracture in animals and humans.

Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont (UVM) who co-led the new research, said: “We sliced the robot almost in half and it stitches itself back up and keeps going.

“And this is something you can’t do with typical machines.”

But there are also downsides to using living tissues, Prof Bongard said of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PANS).

READ MORE: World’s first baby born after ROBOTIC womb transplant

Mr Levin said: “We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can’t do.

“Like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering micro-plastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque.”

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To create the bots, researchers used a supercomputer at UVM to run thousands of evolutionary algorithms to create candidates for new life forms.

The computer would constantly reassemble simulated cells into new life forms until something stuck.

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