Researchers have discovered the world’s first living robot that can uniquely replicate itself. Scientists have dubbed them ‘Xenobots,’ robots made from the stem cells of the Xenopus laevis, an African clawed frog.
The stem cells have tiny little hairs called cilia that help them move around a petri dish. The Xenobot project was first unveiled in 2020. Thanks to a group of scientists who found that they could carry, work together in groups and self-heal.
The study was worked on by researchers at the University of Vermont, Tufts University, and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. In terms of size, Xenobots are less than a millimeter. Scientists believe that the discovery could serve fruitful in the medical field.
Pac-Man is like living robots
The Xenobots replicate by pushing other stem cells into piles. These piles then form into Xenobots over the course of a few days. At first, the replication was happening spontaneously. Researchers then used artificial intelligence to figure out the best shape for the Xenobots to replicate on a more consistent basis.
It turns that the Pac-Man shape yielded the best results. Thanks to the’ Pac-Man’ design, the Xenobots could reproduce two to three times better than just the natural state. It is an entirely new form of biological reproduction not seen in any known animal or plant.
Biologists and roboticists hope the project can explain how some animals can regenerate lost parts while some cannot. Similar to how humans can regenerate parts of their liver, salamanders can regenerate entire limbs. These kinds of living robots open a lot of possibilities for medical research.