Robots are very complex, hard to make, and it’s taken many years to have smooth movements and bipedal walking. Modern day robotics take a lot of time and energy to create. With corrosive and cancer-causing materials automatons, when disposed of, will do more harm to the environment than good. But what if there was a different way to make a machine? One that’s organic yet programmable. That’s the thought process behind the University of Vermont’s Xenobots.
The University of Vermont’s super computer has been programed with and an algorithm that takes stem cells from frog eggs and reconstruct them. It’s AI scraps the eggs of the Xenopus laevis, (which is the species of frog used and where Xenobots get their name), then incubates them. From there, they are shaped into whatever body form is needed.
They don’t reproduce or replicate so technically they are not considered to be living. It’s a whole new class of organism constructed in various ways to clean up pollutants such as plastics and nuclear waste. Xenobots can heal from injury, but only last for about two weeks before their built-in energy source runs out. So far a few have been constructed and tested out by moving microscopic blocks from one spot to another.
Medical applications are what scientist at the University of Vermont look forward to. They plan to make versions of the biological machines that can carry medicine to a targeted location or reconstruct tumors into normal living tissue. Xenobots could also be used to scrap plaque off of arteries. The fact that they are made of organic materials means that if they die inside another organism, they’ll just be reabsorbed with no ill effects to the host.
The possibilities of Xenobots are many and we’ve only just scratched the surface. They might be the very thing that cures cancer. They may even cure most diseases. They could also be the next plague in the making. We could see them save lives or use people as a host for a man-made parasitic zombie outbreak. Only time will tell.
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