U.S. Research Team Assembles 'living' Robot With Cells

- Jan 13, 2020-

US researchers have created a "living" robot based on a single cell. This programmable organic substance can move to a specified target, and after being cut, it can repair itself. The research results were published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences on the 13th.


Researchers at the University of Vermont in the United States first ran an evolutionary algorithm on a supercomputer to simulate an organism design based on the laws of biophysics. Subsequently, researchers at Tufts University in the United States extracted stem cells from Xenopus embryos and cultivated them into skin cells or myocardial cells. After dividing them into individual cells, they were assembled under a microscope to a structure similar to the design scheme.

Studies have shown that previously randomly contracted cardiomyocytes can move forward in an orderly and autonomous manner and move for several days or weeks in an aqueous environment. Further experiments show that these "living" robots can also move in a ring and push the ball to the center together. Researchers cut these robots out of them, and they can stitch together autonomously to continue working, which is not possible with traditional robots.

Co-author of the paper, Tufts University biologist Michael Levin, said that "living" robots are expected to be used in the future to search for radioactive contamination, collect microplastics in the sea, or clear atherosclerotic plaques in arteries.