These scientists created living robots out of frog cells. Now these “Xenobots” are reproducing.
IT WOULD PROBABLY have been the science story of the year—any other year. In January 2020, a team of biologists, roboticists and computer scientists announced that they had created the world’s first living robots. These Xenobots were cells culled from a frog, sculpted with the help of an evolutionary algorithm, and then set free to roam under the microscope. Liberated from the constraints of frogness, these cells had designs of their own. They collaborated. They interacted. They performed basic tasks. And eventually, in more recent experiments, they started to multiply.
This is the team’s latest revelation: Xenobots can autonomously assemble identical copies of themselves from individual cells floating in the spring water around them.