According to US scientists, the world’s first living robots, known as “xenobots,” can now reproduce.
The robots, which were built using the African clawed frog’s heart and skin stem cells, were revealed last year after trials proved they could move and self-heal.
The scientists that created the xenobots at Tufts University, the University of Vermont, and Harvard University now claim that the small blobs may also self-replicate.
On Monday, the findings of the new study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The organisms can swim out of their dish, discover other single cells, and build “baby” xenobots, according to experiments.
The babies grow into new xenobots that look and move exactly like the original creation after a few days.
According to the experts, the new xenobots can then go out and self-replicate.
Xenobots are computer-designed and hand-assembled robots that are smaller than a millimetre wide.
The scientists were astounded to realise that the small blobs could self-replicate.
“People have thought for quite a long time that we’ve worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate. But this is something that’s never been observed before,” said Douglas Blackiston, who worked on the study.
“This is profound,” added Michael Levin, co-leader of the research. “These cells have the genome of a frog, but, freed from becoming tadpoles, they use their collective intelligence, a plasticity, to do something astounding.”
The new findings, according to the researchers, could help progress regenerative medicine.
“If we knew how to tell collections of cells to do what we wanted them to do, ultimately, that’s regenerative medicine — that’s the solution to traumatic injury, birth defects, cancer, and aging,” Levin said.
“All of these different problems are here because we don’t know how to predict and control what groups of cells are going to build. Xenobots are a new platform for teaching us.”