by Julie Borg, World
Researchers have refashioned frog stem cells into tiny robots that can move purposefully and heal themselves if injured. University of Vermont computer scientist Joshua Bongard admitted his team turned to biological organisms because life contains a complex artistry human technology cannot replicate. “There’s all of this innate creativity in life,” he said.
The 1-millimeter-wide robots, called xenobots, are “neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal,” Bongard said. “It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”
In the study, published January 13th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers harvested stem cells from African frog embryos, separated them into single cells, and incubated them. A computer generated thousands of possible designs for the xenobots and then used hundreds of simulations to find what combination of cells and body shapes would accomplish the behavior scientists wanted to achieve.
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