With the help of supercomputers, researchers at the University of Vermont and Tufts university used frog skin and heart cells to design new life forms. If the lab prototype can reach its full potential, the tiny robot based on living cells could soon find new applications in the body. Researchers are known to harvest stem cells from frog embryos and then grow mature cells, cut them and add them to create a biological model of super-calculation “drawing.”
(Pictured: Douglas Blackiston, via Cnet)
The result is a group of frog cells. At one end is pumped heart cells, like motors on a boat, that propel it through the liquid.
“It’s neither a traditional robot nor a known animal species, but a whole new class of artifacts, a living programmable creature,” Joshua Bongard, a robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study, said in a statement.
Building the First Living Robots (via)
The tiny bio-robot moves so slowly that to see if it can function as expected, the researchers try to flip it over to stop it (like a three-legged little turtle).
The team designed several types of live cell robots to see if they could successfully drive other objects. Even experimentally created a “small bag” in this “life body” to carry payloads.
“We can imagine that these live cell robots are being used in many scenarios to achieve goals that other machines cannot achieve,” said Michael Levin of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, co-director.
Just like looking for nasty compounds or radioactive contaminants, collect plastic particles in the ocean or transfer them in arteries to remove embolisms.
Time-Lapse Recording of Building Living Robots (via)
Tufts University microscopic surgeon Douglas Blackiston uses tiny tweezers and thinner electrodes to help create the so-called Xenobots robot (named after the species of the African frog Xenopis laevis).
Details of the study were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Originally published as:
A scalable pipeline for design reconfigurable organisms