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Science & Technology

Scientists reveal world's first living robots

By T.K. Randall
January 14, 2020 · Comment icon 65 comments

Is this the future of robotics ? Image Credit: Douglas Blackiston / Tufts University / University of Vermont
Researchers have succeeded in creating robots that are made from live animal cells instead of metal and plastic.
This remarkable achievement comes courtesy of roboticists in the United States who used the skin and heart cells of African clawed frogs to produce robots capable of moving around all on their own.

"These are entirely new lifeforms," said Michael Levin from the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. "They are living, programmable organisms."

Measuring less than 1mm in length, these tiny robots are based on designs produced by a supercomputer which churned out and tested hundreds of possible 3D configurations.

"The aim is to understand the software of life," said Levin.
"If you think about birth defects, cancer, age-related diseases, all of these things could be solved if we knew how to make biological structures, to have ultimate control over growth and form."

While the potential scientific and medical benefits of the research are clear, some scientists have raised questions about the ethics of working with what are essentially new life forms.

"At what point would they become beings with interests that ought to be protected ?" said Thomas Douglas from the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

"I think they'd acquire moral significance only if they included neural tissue that enabled some kind of mental life, such as the ability to experience pain."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (65)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #56 Posted by spartan max2 4 years ago
Everyone's getting so angry in this thread  lol.
Comment icon #57 Posted by rashore 4 years ago
Ok folks, cool your collars and knock it off with the bickering and talking about each other.. Discuss the OP topic in a civil manner.
Comment icon #58 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
That certainly depends upon the content being discussed. When it comes to the topic at hand no opinion is being expressed by me. Only the facts according to the OPs link and some additional reading I have done on the subject since it was brought to my attention in this thread. Peace
Comment icon #59 Posted by razman 4 years ago
They're gonna grow and take over the world!!!!!!!!!
Comment icon #60 Posted by XenoFish 4 years ago
With stuff like this, cloning, 3d printed organs. The future is biomechanical. 
Comment icon #61 Posted by curiouse 4 years ago
Comment icon #62 Posted by spartan max2 4 years ago
Comment icon #63 Posted by spartan max2 4 years ago
People often say the next stage of evolution is people making robots that will outlive humans. But I have also suspected that the next stage is humans slowly turning themselves into robots.
Comment icon #64 Posted by Eldorado 3 years ago
A microscopic, living robot that can heal and power itself has been created out of frog skin cells. Xenobots, named after the frog species Xenopus laevis that the cells come from, were first described last year. Now the team behind the robots has improved their design and demonstrated new capabilities.
Comment icon #65 Posted by Tatetopa 3 years ago
As an elective, I attended some lectures on soil science from a prof at Oregon State University about 20 years ago.  One lecture was about GMO.  This particular prof had been invited to help with the  final test of a newly patented microbe designed to convert waste from mint harvest into alcohol.  It was designed to be a boon for mint farmers, the alcohol would be a marketable product from a waste stream.  Sounds great. It had already received preliminary FDA approval This microbe did its job so well  that it could thrive and convert low concentrations of field  stubble into alcohol.... [More]

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