The first living robots, known as xenobots, were constructed by US scientists who claim that they can now reproduce in a way that plants and animals cannot.
Xenobots are made from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), from which they get their name. They’re only a millimetre (0.04 inch) wide. After research revealed that they could move, collaborate in groups, and self-heal, the small blobs were initially revealed in 2020.
Scientists from the University of Vermont, Tufts University, and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have now announced that they have uncovered a completely new kind of biological reproduction that is unlike any animal or plant currently known to science.
“I was surprised,” said Michael Levin, a Tufts University biology professor and director of the Allen Discovery Center, who was a co-lead author on the new study.
“Frogs have a means of reproducing that they ordinarily employ, but when you… free (the cells) from the rest of the embryo and give them a chance to figure out how to live in a new environment, they figure out not only a new way to move, but also an apparently new way to procreate.”