Scientists create first living robots that can reproduce - study

Less than a millimeter long, xenobots were originally first presented to the public in January of last year, where they could self-heal.

ROBOTS DANCE in a Boston Dynamics robotics company video posted on December 29. (photo credit: BOSTON DYNAMICS VIA REUTERS)
ROBOTS DANCE in a Boston Dynamics robotics company video posted on December 29.
(photo credit: BOSTON DYNAMICS VIA REUTERS)

Scientists from the University of Vermont have reportedly built the first living robots, also claiming that they have the ability to reproduce.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, states that artificially intelligent-designed "xenobots" have presented a new way of biological self-replication.

Less than a millimeter long, xenobots were originally first presented to the public in January of last year, where they could self-heal using stem cells of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, of which the AI robot is named after. The experiments at the time presented their ability for movement and collaboration to work together in groups.

The significance here is that clusters of cells can find and combine loose cells into clusters that look and move similarly, but that artificial intelligence can design clusters that replicate better, the researchers stated.

To create the xenobots, frog embryo stem cells were scraped and left to incubate by researchers. They were originally sphere-shaped and made from 3,000 cells. 

A colony of haploid embryonic stem cells (credit: AZRIELI CENTER FOR STEM CELLS AND GENETIC RESEARCH/HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM)A colony of haploid embryonic stem cells (credit: AZRIELI CENTER FOR STEM CELLS AND GENETIC RESEARCH/HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM)

Researchers from Tufts University and Harvard University said that the discovery of biological reproduction from these robots is different from any animal or plant that is known to science. Researchers used AI to test billions of body shapes to make the xenobots improve in kinetic replication - which occurs at the molecular level.

In the end, the supercomputer came up with a C-shape, and researchers found that it was able to find other tiny stem cells and a few days later the bundle of cells become new baby "xenobots." The scientists were stunned to discover that they were able to self-replicate spontaneously.

The researchers affirmed that the living machines are contained in a lab and can be destroyed easily if there was any concern. However, the team said that this discovery could be beneficial for advancing regenerative medicine.