Xenobots are the newly-discovered, first living and self-healing robots constructed from frog stem cells. Xenobots are named after the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), the source of stem cells. These robots can walk, swim, survive for weeks without food, and work in groups. The University of Vermont, along with Tufts University, label these new machines as a programmable organism, as CNN detailed:
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types. The researchers scraped living stem cells from frog embryos, and left them to incubate. Then, the cells were cut and reshaped into specific "body forms" designed by a supercomputer -- forms "never seen in nature," according to a news release from the University of Vermont.
The cells then began to work on their own -- skin cells bonded to form structure, while pulsing heart muscle cells allowed the robot to move on its own. Xenobots even have self-healing capabilities; when the scientists sliced into one robot, it healed by itself and kept moving.
Xenobots don't look like traditional robots -- they have no shiny gears or robotic arms. Instead, they look more like a tiny blob of moving pink flesh. The researchers say this is deliberate -- this "biological machine" can achieve things typical robots of steel and plastic cannot.
image credit: Douglas Blackiston, Sam Kriegman via CNN