5-speed listening (Xenobots - Level 3)

Scientists create living robots that can have babies



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Scientists say that a new kind of robot can reproduce - it can create baby robots. This is an example of science fiction becoming science fact. The scientists, from the Universities of Vermont, Tufts and Harvard, created the world's first "living" robots. They are called "xenobots". Scientists created them in 2020 from the stem cells of an African frog. Its scientific name – "xenopus laevis" – gave the xenobot its name. The xenobots are less than a millimetre wide. They can move, work together in groups and self-heal. Although they are not what we imagine robots to be, scientists say they are technically robots. They are a machine-animal hybrid. The scientists say xenobots are "an entirely new life-form".

The scientists explained that the bots reproduce because of their shape. Researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) to test billions of body shapes. The result was a C-shaped robot. It was able to find tiny stem cells in a petri dish. It gathered the cells in its mouth. A few days later, the cells became a new, "baby" xenobot. The xenobots are very early technology. However, they could change science, medicine, technology and the way we live. They could carry out tasks inside our body to repair damage to organs. They could also help the environment by attacking micro-plastics in our oceans, or by cleaning up oil spills. Despite the possible benefits, some people are worried about robots that can reproduce.

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