Today you learned about Xenobots - an innovation and a controversy all in one.
Xenobots are some the smallest robots ever designed and the first robots to ever use living components.
Scientists repurposed living cells -- and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These living robots can move toward a target and heal themselves after being cut. Neither traditional robot nor traditional living organism, these Xenobot are new class of their own: a living, programmable organism.
As you can imagine, the controversy comes over the living components used to make these little robots. They are composed of two things: the heart muscle and skin cells from African clawed frogs that are obtained from the stem cells of the frog embryos. As these are simple designs, the distribution of the two types of cells allows them to be designed for specific functions such as pushing a pebble, walking-swimming, or working together with other xenobots to perform a more complex task. Currently these robots are mostly being observed to see how cells work together for more complex functions.
But, if the robots seem to be successful other applications in sustainability and health can also be pursued. For more information on these little robots, check out this YouTube video from the Seeker.