Its functions will include “searching for and eliminating hazardous materials, collecting microplastics in the oceans or traveling through blood vessels”, according to one of the researchers Michael Tufs
The xenobots They are small robots that have been created from organic material and that apart from having own life, they can also regenerate autonomously. In addition, among its capabilities is that of being programmed in its movements and in its form depending on the needs.
These robots created with frog embryo stem cells (the species ‘Xenopus laevis’, hence its name) were unveiled in January 2020But at that time they only moved in one specific direction, carried very small loads, healed themselves, and disappeared without a trace once dead after about 1 week of life.
Now, in 2021, the same computer team Deep Green which is in the University of Vermont and the Biology Laboratory of the Tufts university, in Massachusetts present novelties in these small robots. Currently, xenobots are presented with the same qualities as the previous ones, but with a memory (although this is minimal) that is shown changing color when it is stimulated in a certain way. In addition, it also has the ability to expand your applications organizing in swarms.
First of all, it should be noted that they are not about ‘nanobots‘since xenobots are living robots, that is, with living cells and molecules. These robots were designed on a computer to be shaped later by a robot. “The muscle cells beat, so depending on the shape we give the robot, we can achieve a faster or slower movement” explained the person in charge of the project.
In addition, the cells of the xenobots, once they have been assembled, begin to work together. From this process a living system is generated and these same cells organize themselves. And, if an embryonic energy source is available, the organisms of these little robots can be reconfigure and move on a consistent, scheduled basis over days.
Functions in the future
The objective of the xenobots is that in the future these can be of use for the robotics companies transporting materials in its interior since with its reduced size of 1 mm3 they are not invasive in organisms of a scale similar to the human one. As I explain Michael Tufs, one of the main creators of robots, “will be used to search for and dispose of hazardous materials, as well as to collect microplastics in the oceans or travel through blood vessels“.
Therefore, they could be of great help to the regenerative medicine for humans and, for example, for the repair of communication systems. Although, for the moment, scientists prefer to focus on solving doubts such as their tendency to organize themselves as swarms, exploring their capacity for self-healing and memory.