Stem Cell Living Robots
Photo credit: Douglas Blackiston | Tufts University
Researchers at Tufts University have the world’s first living robots created using stem cells scraped from frog embryos. These cells were then use to assemble “xenobots,” or small 1-millimeter-wide blobs act like living, self-healing robots. They’re capable of walking, swimming and working cooperatively, but future uses include reprogramming tumors in the human body, deliver drugs or scraping arterial plaque.

The stem cells were sourced from the African frog species Xenopus laevis, which also explains the xenobot name, and the ensuing living robot cells work together, enabling them to move on their own in watery environments. The come pre-loaded with their own food source that lasts up to 1-week.

These are novel living machines. They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism,” said Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at UVM who co-led the new research.

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