Do you want a living robot in your blood? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to have bots in their blood? Having a living- programmable bot in your body can heal a lot of health issues. Meanwhile, Researchers have developed and presented ‘Xenobots: the First Living Robots’.
Artificial Intelligence and biology have now together changed the face of the future creating the first living robots. To clarify, they are self-healing and living. A combination in between the species providing results of mutation and hybrid is not what this is. Xenobots are now the “First Living Robots” and “Novel Living Machines”. They are not traditional robots or any species of animal. In fact, Xenobots compose of 500-1000 living cells within a size of 1mm. Yes, they are smaller than 1mm of size. Isn’t it interesting? They as designed can move. They walk, swim, push pellets, carry payloads, and work together in a swarm to aggregate debris scattered. Amazingly, they are like living robotic workers who work as per our wish. And the most interesting thing is they survive for two weeks without food. And also heal in case they are wounded.
Michael Levin, Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts-“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth.”
How are Xenobots created?
How did the Scientists create a living robot within a size of 1mm? Xenobots are in fact made from the cells of frog (Xenopus laevis). Thus the name is Xenobots. They compose of two kinds of cells: Skin cells and heart muscle cells. These cells are derived from the frog embryo during their early stage of development. The cells are stem cells. Heart cells naturally contract, expand and help the bot to move forward, or help to swim, and so on. Skin cells are rigid and don’t move. The motivation was if these cells were arranged in a specific way, maybe it could give a functional structure that could locomote as required and perform several tasks. The result gave birth to the first living robots.
Arranging thousands of cells to give a specific shape and configuration so that the life form as per our wish is a pretty difficult task. The use of computer scientists and “Evolutionary algorithms” AI has brought up this. Above all, supercomputers designed millions of iterations on the configuration of cells for providing specific motion for the robots. Most importantly, Researches could find beautiful configurations required. Finding different cells, separating them from the embryo and then again mixing them and adding them to make a specific configuration seems to be a pretty difficult task. The scientists have figured out the combinations for the specific movement and thus the combinations can work for us. It is like a specific combination moves forward, another can carry a payload. In addition, some combinations can swim and aggregate debris.
Can Xenobots reproduce?
It is already known Xenobots can self- repair and reattach when cut. However, they cannot show emergent behavior. Importantly, they cannot reproduce. They are in fact the life forms but not the organisms. Subsequently in the near future, living robots will be more complex to understand and they can actually reproduce.
Possible Future Applications
Xenobots are the only living robots and indeed a beautiful result. They have a wider range of applications. You may wonder what that tiny thing can do. But it is a wonder. Let me list some of the applications that it could be used in.
- As per the researchers, it could clean the polluted oceans by collecting the microplastics.
- It may be used to enter the confined and dangerous areas. They can detect and gather and remove toxic, and radioactive materials from red zones and restricted areas.
- Xenobots, designed with pouches, can carry medicines and drugs with body.
The Future and Threat
These bots are made from the frog’s cell. In the same vein, similar robots may develop made from human cells. They could possibly help in the treatment of minor internal diseases, stones, infections to major cancers, and brain tumors. Interestingly, predictions show similar robots when made from the patient cells and programmed can remove brain tumors. And when patient cells make this bot, the body won’t reject it. Furthermore, these could take drugs to our body also. Or they can remove fats and clean your arteries and veins. Likewise, future robots might compose of photoreceptor cells, sensory cells and nerve cells.
There are some potential risks as well. For instance, these bots could include dual usage of carrying drugs and harmful agents. They might be used for warfare and assassinations. They can be misused with the chemical and biological agents. There is some threat to human life and health in case misused.
Certainly, Tte generation of Xenobots is a turnover in the history of robotics, health and science. This will soon change the future of health, medical treatment, cleaning technologies and many more. Xenobots give the face and the fate of the future technology. Having some possible ethical considerations, when used properlly, Xenobots will change the future of living.
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I am an Electrical Engineering Undergraduate at Kathmandu University, Nepal. I am also an executive board of Kathmandu Univerisity Robotics Club. I love robotics, technology, space, and energy.