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Breakthrough ‘Living Robots’ That Have Memory Created By Scientists

by : Emily Brown on : 01 Apr 2021 11:04
Breakthrough 'Living Robots' That Have Their Own Memory Created By ScientistsOrion Pictures/Tufts University

If you’ve ever thrown your phone across the room or smacked a TV to try and get it to work then you might be in trouble; the creation of robots with memory means the machines might just come back to get their revenge. 

News of the first ‘living robots’ first came about last year, when a team of computer scientists from the University of Vermont and biologists from Tufts University created tiny machines known as ‘Xenobots’.

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Now, the same team has created the ‘next generation’ of the robots made out of frog skin cells, with an improved design and new capabilities.

According to a press release from the University of Vermont, the robots are ‘life forms that self-assemble a body from single cells’. Unlike other living creatures, they do not require muscle cells to move, and they ‘even demonstrate the capability of recordable memory’.

The new and improved Xenobots can move faster than their predecessors, navigate different environments and live longer, as well as having the ability to record information and heal themselves if damaged. They measure between a quarter and half a millimetre in size and operate in robot swarms, meaning they can work together to complete a task.

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Tufts scientist Doug Blackiston, who co-first authored the study with research technician Emma Lederer, commented:

In a way, the Xenobots are constructed much like a traditional robot. Only we use cells and tissues rather than artificial components to build the shape and create predictable behavior.

On the biology end, this approach is helping us understand how cells communicate as they interact with one another during development, and how we might better control those interactions.

Scientists have used computer simulations to identify the kind of work Xenobots would be able to take on, with computer scientists and robotics experts Josh Bongard explaining that the team ultimately wants them to ‘do useful work’ such as clean up microplastics in the ocean.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Science, Now, Robotics, robots

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University of Vermont
  1. University of Vermont

    Scientists Create the Next Generation of Living Robots