A team of US researchers managed to create the first living specimens of machines, developed with animal tissue. They may be used in medicine or even in environmental terms.
Behind the US Department of Defense-funded research are two biologists, Michael Levin and Douglas Blackiston, and two robotics experts, Josh Bongard and Sam Kriegman. Scientists used cells taken from the heart of frogs. The material was then processed into supercomputers to simulate thousands of cell aggregates in different ways and try to predict their behavior.
The result was a half-millimeter biological machine with hundreds of cells capable of moving in a direction determined by scientists. "It's not a traditional robot or an animal species. It's a new kind of artifact: a living, programmable organism.", stressed Josh Bongard.
The supercomputer used in the research is from the University of Vermont, Canada, and the work is being accompanied by scientists from Tufts University, Massachusetts. "We can design many applications for these robots that other machines can't do," said Michal Levin, head of the Center for Regenerative Biology and Development at Tufts University. "They could be used to collect nasty or even radioactive compounds by collecting microplastics in the oceans," he explained.