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Rib-bot! Scientists Use Frog Cells To Build Robots

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UVM and Tufts Team Builds First Living Robots

Under computer scientist and robotics expert Joshua Bongard's leadership, the team created thousands of designs on Vermont University's DeepGreen supercomputer.

They could also be used to go inside our bodies to scrape out plaque or deliver tiny sensors capable of detecting internal diseases and problems. Xenobots even have self-therapeutic capabilities; when the scientists sliced into one robotic, it healed by itself and saved transferring. They are living, programmable organisms.

A supercomputer was used to design the new creatures, and then built and developed on by biologists.

According to the researchers, the xenobots may lead to novel machines in a wide range of fields like detecting toxic contamination in the environment, gathering microplastic in the oceans, and also scraping out blocks in blood vessels. And once in the human body, they can unclog arteries and prevent the impending heart attack that the doctor has warned you about. If it was asked to create a being that moved in a certain direction, for instance, it would try out hundreds of different possible ways to combine simulated cells into different shapes that would allow the life-form to do so. "Their bodies look and act completely different from frogs, and can do so despite the fact that these "animals" have no evolutionary history of selection pressure which would have rewarded them for this behavior (they're skin cells which have been used for millions of years to sit quietly on the surface of a frog and keep out the pathogens)". It did so through a virtual version of evolution, with scientists setting the computer a task and it calculating what design might work best. The scientists took stem cells of the African clawed from whose scientific name is Xenopus Laevis.

These reconfigurable organisms were shown to be able move in a coherent fashion-and explore their watery environment for days or weeks, powered by embryonic energy stores.

It turns out that robots of the future needn't be built from steel, silicon, metal, plastic or other non-biodegradable synthetic materials. Unlike traditional materials, the robots can be sliced nearly in half and will fix themselves back together again, they claim.

"This is something you can't do with typical machines", Bongard said.

Creations that blur the line between robots and living organisms are popular subjects in science fiction; think of the killer machines in the "Terminator" movies or the replicants from the world of "Blade Runner".

Still, they have a lot to teach us about how cells communicate and connect, the team writes.

The scientists scraped living stem cells from frog embryos.

"It's 100% frog DNA - but these are not frogs".

Scientists in the United States claim to have created zombie robots from reanimated frog cells, giving rise to a living organism never seen or created before which can perform important tasks while healing itself.

"The big question in biology is to understand the algorithms that determine form and function", says Levin.

"When we start to mess around with complex systems that we don't understand, we're going to get unintended consequences", Michael Levin, a biophysicist, and co-author of the study said in a press statement.

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