Created the first robots exclusively from living cells

Engineers have created a lot of robots that mimic the various living beings. But what neither would have these devices to bring them to life is impossible.

it Seems that now the line starts to blur.

Scientists from the U.S. created from living cells “being” with programmable behavior.

This creation is called the black stone: in the name of the frogs Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog smooth) who had borrowed the cell.

“This is a new living machine. They are not traditional robots, nor any known animal species. This is a new class: programmable living organism,” explains lead researcher on the project Professor Joshua Bongard (Bongard Joshua) from the University of Vermont.

Xenobot was designed using the cluster of supercomputers Deep Green. Taking into account the Biophysics of the cells and the predetermined conditions (for example, possibility to move the robot forward), special “evolutionary” algorithm developed thousands of possible configurations.

Then the simulation helped to determine which configurations are best suited for the task. That is, the options were virtual natural selection.

When the algorithm has determined the selection, biologists have identified stem cells from frog embryos, incubated them, and then built in accordance with the advice of artificial intelligence.

In a Petri dish, the cells formed stable structure, never seen in nature (although genetically it was still “absolutely” frogs).

Verify that xenobot were collected from skin cells and heart. First, in this case, passive and serve as a kind of framework. And heart muscle cells are Contracting, allow the “unknown animal” to move around.

the Left – anatomical diagram of the body, created by the supercomputer. Right – the body is made from skin cells (green) and heart wesci (red).Illustration of Sam Kriegman, UVM.

the Authors clarify that living machines can exist in fresh water at a temperature of from 4.5 to 26.5 degrees Celsius.

Thanks to the lipids and proteins of embryonic cells they function about a week, without additional nutrients. The latter, however, can extend the “shelf life” to a few weeks.

the experiments of the group xenobot swam in a circle and even can push microscopic granules in the center.

However, turned over by 180 DEG in the transverse plane, the black stone will not be able to move (like a beetle helpless, lying on her back).

Size xenobot while it may not sound so impressive. However, the achievement of the team at least proves the possibility of creating programmable living systems. And as a maximum – is the first step towards the development of a fundamentally new machines, which in the future will be able to take on many important tasks: from cleaning the environment to treat people.

“We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots. This is something that can not do other cars. For example, searching for toxic compounds or radioactive contamination, the collection of micro-plastic in the oceans, travel through the arteries to remove plaque,” says co-author Professor Michael Levin (Michael Levin) from tufts University.

it is Important to note that these unique living systems can heal themselves. Scientists tested this by cutting some of them almost in half. However, xenobot restored the original structure.

This property gives the living machines is an important advantage over conventional. It is unlikely a robot or any other device, say a laptop, will restore the form and function, if you cut them in half.

the authors Also clarify that xenobot biocompatible and completely safe with tthe points of view of medical applications. Doing the work, they become harmless dead cells that are completely biodegradable. This means that they can be trusted targeted delivery of drugs in the patient’s body.

by the Way, for this purpose, suitable version xenobot with a hole in the center, where you can put a drug.

the Team intends to continue to explore the possibilities of living robots and management.

Experts admit that I’m sure many fear that once such life forms could spin out of control. Especially dangerous would be to give them the ability to reproduce (the current xenobot don’t).

Actually, no living system can not be fully controlled. And the machine, endowed with intelligence and wit, it can (theoretically) behave unpredictably.

and sentient robots – and all new to science create, work that will have with caution. And with the development of this technology experts may have to develop regulations governing research, in terms of safety and ethics, to the case came before the creation of biological weapons or creatures, thinking creatures, they shivering or have the right.

Article on the outcome of the new work presented in the journal PNAS. In addition, the creation of xenobot the authors described in detail the web service Github, so their colleagues can use and improve this approach in future works.

by the Way, before “Conduct.Science” ( talked about the creation of artificial cells able to “communicate” with each other, and synthetic organisms that will shed light on the course of evolution. We also wrote about robots with real nervous and muscle tissue, and how the scientists collected the living and the artificial cell into a single system and configured it for the production of certain substances.

Text: To.Science