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Scientists say world’s first living robots can now self-replicate

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Leshi Adebayo

American scientists responsible for the creation of the World’s first living robots, known as Xenobots in 2020, have said that their life forms can now reproduce.

According to the scientists, the reproductive process of the robots is different from that of plants and animals. The scientists said that the Xenobots are “the first-ever, self-replicating living robots.”

Hindustan Times reported that the new development was made known in a CNN report while quoting a scientific study on Monday.

The report stated that the tiny organisms were unveiled in 2020, following the discovery of a group of scientists at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, that they could move, work together in groups and self-heal.

It was revealed in the report that Xenobots are sized less than a millimetre, as they were created from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) which is where the name, Xenobot was derived.

The scientists believe that the new discovery could contribute greatly to the medical field.

A professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Micheal Levin explained the reproduction process to CNN.

He said, “Frogs have a way of reproducing that they normally use but when you… liberate (the cells) from the rest of the embryo and you give them a chance to figure out how to be in a new environment, not only do they figure out a new way to move, but they also figure out apparently a new way to reproduce.”

Another scientist, Josh Bongard from the University of Vermont and lead author of the research spoke to the Guardian on the new discovery.

“These things move around in the dish and make copies of themselves. These are very small, biodegradable and biocompatible machines, and they’re perfectly happy in freshwater.

“That near-term applications could include collecting microplastics from waterways,”Bongard said.

Speaking to CNN, Bongard highlighted that people think robots are metal and ceramic “but it’s not so much what a robot is made from but what it does, which is acting on its own on behalf of people”.

Meanwhile, the research was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a US federal agency that oversees the development of technology for military use.

The study also was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, PNAS on Monday, November 29.

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