These Pac-Man-shaped genotypes can reproduce in the body

Ces robots en forme de Pac-Man sont capables de créer de se répliquer. © Doug Blackiston et Sam Kriegman

Researchers have developed robots out of frogs’ stem cells, which are capable of stacking new stem cells to reproduce. And for many generations. A wonderful experience that can tell about the origin of life.

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For years, researchers have been trying to create genotypes made of cells. By 2020, a team from the University of Vermont and the University of Tufts had successfully formed Robots From Stem cells Frogs can move around individually and organize themselves to perform different tasks (read below). Today, a new step has been taken with genobots that can create new generation robots that can reproduce like a creature.

Layers of stem cells that turn into robots

Initially, as before, we had genotypes made up of clusters of frog stem cells Xenobus Lewis (Soft xenopus). Each cluster, about half a millimeter in diameter, contains about 3,000 stem cells. These xenobots then immersed 60,000 new stem cells in the “bath”, and there, surprisingly: they begin to form “layers” of stem cells, large enough for them to become autonomous in return. Reproduction stops when new stem cells stop adding.

Each cycle Response However, it produces smaller offspring, so after a while new robots are no longer possible (below 50 cells). To solve this problem, the researchers returnedArtificial intelligence To determine if the assembly has the optimal shape. Using an algorithm, it was possible to determine in advance which initial configuration could provide the largest number of generations. Verdict: Back-man-shaped robots are more efficient, with “kids” averaging 149% larger than spherical-shaped robots. By testing this hypothesis, the researchers found that Pac-Man robots produced four generations of genobots.

Use live “kits” to create scalable robots

L ‘Analogy The computer hardware and software I useMichael Levine, co-author of the study, explains PNAS. What GeneticsThe material is to deliver. Each cell tells exactly what elements it may contain. The rules governing the operation of newly formed cells are similar to those of software “Researchers are now planning to create a” library “of modules, from which we will develop the functionality to create a” super robot “with all the required characteristics.

The beginning of life on earth?

This is the first time that multicellular organisms have created self-replications that do not involve the growth of cells in the body. Michael Levine cheers. However this biological process may be involved The origin of life on earth. ⁇ Elements of are shownARN And can act together like enzymes that help bind to RNA. […] Other non-biological chemicals also make their own copies in this way. “, Says the researcher.

A living robot made from cells

By article Celine Telusarch Posted on 01/19/2020

Researchers have developed robots from frog stem cells that can move around spontaneously and self-organize to perform different tasks. However, the creation of non-natural organisms by humans raises fears of misuse and ethical questions.

Man Cyborg Not yet tomorrow, but the first living robot made from frog stem cells has just seen the light of day. ” This is not a traditional robot or new Species Animal, but completely new whole programmable way of life », Welcomes Engineer Joshua Pongard Robotic At the University of Vermont and co-designer of the project. These xenorobots, as the researchers call them, are less than a millimeter long and can move around freely, live for weeks without food, and work together.

This is not the first attempt Create artificial life. In April 2019, Cornell University researchers announced that they had developed robots ADN with Artificial metabolism. Other approaches have tried to create flexible robots inspired by animals (snakes, cockroaches, etc.). Bird, Turtle, Eel, Cenille, Poison, Wondered, Insect, Dog) But for the first time we have built biological machines from the ground up “, Greet the researchers in the study reported in the journal PNAS.

Xenorobot is a programmable organism made up of stem cells. © University of Vermont

Lifespan ranges from 10 days to several weeks

These xenorobots are not like traditional animals or robots. They are like one Embryo Indicates how cells are organized depending on how they are programmed. Stem cells are first extracted from a Frog embryo African Xenobus Lewis (Hence their name). An evolutionary algorithm creates thousands of possible combinations of “dormant” cells (skin cells) and “active” cells (heart cells), the latter confirming the motility of the biorobot. After incubation, the cells are assembled according to the drawn patternsComputer. Thus it is possible Change properties Depending on the desired task. For example, researchers have found that some configurations are more or less fast or that robots self-organize to collect or manipulate objects.

Each xenorobot has enough energy to survive spontaneously for 10 days, but in a fertile environment their lifespan can extend to several weeks. Nutrients, Say researchers. Xenorobots can “heal” wounds.

Robots, made up of nerve cells, have cognitive abilities

One thing to dream about in the possibilities of these xenorobots: they can, for example Take the medicine Clean the human body or plaquesAtheroma In Arteries Before decomposing naturally. They can also collect plastic in the ocean. To digest toxic substances Or to identify molecules in a radioactive or inaccessible environment. But this technology offers even more dizzying opportunities. By making them from nerve and sensory cells, xenorobots can thus become “intelligent” with cognitive abilities.

Are robots going to turn against us?

Perceptions that raise some concerns about the hijacking of such robots (fears that the project is being partially funded by Darba, the US military’s research arm). One can imagine the colonies of robots deciding for themselves to invade an organism, even if they have not yet reproduced or evolved. A deadly virus has spread Or clear objects. For now, their behavior is driven by design, which is determined by algorithms. Apart from the fact that artificial intelligence is a real black box, its nuances are leaving us more and more. The creation of completely new organisms outside of all biological evolution raises many ethical questions. What feeds into the next sci-fi films.

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