How did scientists develop “living robots” that reproduce and give birth to children?


The world’s first “living robots” are now able to do something essential to the survival of any species, according to a technical engadged report.

Organisms known as Xenobots use an entirely new form of biological replication, according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study authors discovered that the machines could collect hundreds of single cells and assemble them into Xenobots’ baby. After a few days, the offspring evolved to look and move just like their parents.

The offspring can then repeat the process over and over again, and study co-author Douglas Blackstone, chief scientist at Tufts University, said in a statement: “People have long believed that we figured out all the ways in which life can reproduce, but that’s something that hasn’t been done.” noticed it before.”

The millimeter-wide Xenobots are assembled from living cells from frog embryos and confined to petri dishes, and their lives are very different from those of their amphibian ancestors.

“They’re sitting on the outside of the tadpole, keeping pathogens away and redistributing the mucus,” said Michael Levine, a biologist at Tufts University and co-leader of the new research.

Independently, the Xenobot can produce children, but the system usually dies soon after. To give parents a chance to see their children grow up, the researchers turned to AI, and the team used an evolutionary algorithm to test billions of potential body shapes in simulation.

The system was designed to find models that would be effective for a self-replicating method, and one of its striking innovations is similar to Pac-Man. Then the researchers built a Xenobot like this and tested their child-rearing skills.

They also discovered that an AI-engineered parent could use a Pac-Man-shaped “mouth” to compress stem cells into a circular offspring, and then their children built grandchildren, built great-grandchildren, built great-grandchildren. The Xenobot bloodline was taking shape.

And while Xenobots could previously work in groups, self-heal, and even record memories, this is the consistent time they’ve been able to raise a family.

That could spark terrifying visions of swarms of self-replicating robots, but the researchers envision more optimistic results, and they believe their system could advance many technologies, from living machines that clean microplastics to new drugs.

Levine, co-author of the study, is particularly excited about the possibilities in regenerative medicine, and he said if we knew how to tell groups of cells to do what we wanted them to do, that’s regenerative medicine — that’s the answer to traumatic injury, birth defects, cancer, aging, and there’s a bunch of these different problems here. Because we don’t know how to predict and control the populations of cells that Xenobots will build, a new platform for our education.


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