Yes, you read that title right. A team at the University of Vermont has figured out how to make robot frogs. These life forms are only millimeters long and are neither a living organism or robot. Currently, they can move toward a target and heal themselves after being injured, but not much else. One of their creators, Joshua Bongard, referred to them as “Novel living machines” and also said, “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.” The new creature was designed on a supercomputer at the University of Vermont, but was actually assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University.
The creators of this new form of life see many different opportunities for it to do good, like searching out radiation, or gathering microplastics from the oceans, or even clearing plaque from arteries. Genetically engineering organisms has always been a widespread thing, but this is the first ever time that something was genetically modified from the ground up. The supercomputer at the University of Vermont ran hundreds of algorithms to test the optimal design for the organism, it would take many types of cells and put them into a bunch of forms and body shapes. Until they were finally able to decide on the optimal body type, thanks to the help of this computer. After the shape was decided the scientists at Tufts then incubated each cell on its own then used tiny forceps and an electrode in order to merge the cells together. They were then assembled into a form never seen before in nature, they were able to move in coherent fashion, but struggled from getting up from their backs like a beetle or a newborn baby.
Personally, I think the biggest use for this technology is drug delivery throughout the body. Certain medicines for certain diseases that only affect a certain region of the body need to be delivered directly to the source, and taking it orally, or even through injection cannot get it there with the effectiveness that something like a frog carrying a certain treatment like a mailman could, which could mean a lot for medicine. These robots would also be the perfect messengers because they can rapidly heal themselves, since they are comprised of stem cells, if they were to be attacked by the immune system, and because after 7 days they can be programmed to stop working and become regular dead skin cells. So, in turn, they are both biodegradable and effective. Robot frogs are cool, but there is also a lot of uses for them, and a lot of ways this silly invention can help the world.
Wow I feel like I just read an excerpt from a science fiction novel, not something actually happening in the real world. I’m so awestruck by the idea of these frog robots! But, I’m going to have to agree with Jacuole and say this kind of freaks me out. The thought of using cells and life to our own advantage without thinking about the life of these very cells is a strange and perplexing notion. As is pointed out by a bioethicist in an article on Big Think, if these frog robots are ever given neural cells to assist them in sensing and interacting with their own environment, they could be “potentially capable of feeling.” Would we have to keep the quality of these robots lives in mind as we program them in laboratories??? To read more about frog robots and their ethical implications, take a look at this article: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/living-robots?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4. Thank you Tytybox for bringing light to such an interesting subject!
This is so cool. The possibilities for helping the environment and humanity are endless. I think that the most important aspect of this is how it can deal with radiation and cleaning up plastic in the environment. I wonder how effective this technology is on ionizing radiation because it damages electric systems. Here is an article on that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hardening
Incredible! My two favorite things: frogs and robots! This is certainly a new frontier of science, a “lifeform” neither living nor robotic. The prospect of using nanobots for medical procedures gives way to countless life saving surgeries and treatments. Using living frog cells to create minute robotic helpers is simply genius. For more interesting information on the way these robot-frogs were made, and some Jurassic Park quotes, check out this article https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/medical-advances/478406-worlds-first-living-robots-created-using-frog
This is so cool! More and more we see in the news how technology is changing and improving our lives and it seems that robot frogs are next! But reading this article https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/medical-advances/478406-worlds-first-living-robots-created-using-frog asks the question if living robots are ethical as they are made from a “a combination of heart and skin stem cells from the African clawed frog”. Many animal rights activist find this to be harming while many who believe in the importance of artificial intelligence see this as another technological advancement.
This is so fascinating, tytybox! These robot frogs could be the first step into an innovative way to deliver drugs and collect environmental contaminants. Also, since these robots are self-healing and biodegradable, they will not pollute the planet, unlike certain polymers. However, I was looking at an article from the Smithsonian Magazine and it talked about how these robots are bringing up many ethical questions. Nita Farahany, a studier of the ethical ramifications of new technologies at Duke University, says, “When you’re creating life, you don’t have a good sense of what direction it’s going to take “ and that “Any time we try to harness life … [we should] recognize its potential to go really poorly.” You should definitely check this article out as it raises some very serious concerns.
The title says it all and it definitely catches my eye! I immediately wanted to read about Robot frogs, good use of clickbait! So interesting that people have the abilities and resources to actually make robot frogs. In the article I found, (https://www.livescience.com/frogbots-living-robots.html) it discusses what happens when you take cells from frog embryos and grow them into new organisms. It states, that the mobile organisms can move independently, can self-heal, and survive; where they can even transport medicines inside a patients body. We can really use this research to our advantage in the field of medicine. I am excited to see how this takes off!
This article is really interesting, Tytybox. It’s wonderful to see how technology has advanced so much and can benefit our world by helping to find solutions to the world’s most significant problems. Given the uprising global issues such as the Coronavirus, I was curious about how technology could be used the resolve these extreme outbreaks. I found a CNBC article (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/26/robotic-medicine-may-be-the-weapon-needed-to-combat-the-coronavirus.html) that describes how the government and scientists now believe that robots can play a role in fighting the the spread of this infectious disease. Researchers are now searching for innovative techniques as a solution. Who knows, maybe robots can ultimately be a solution this deadly disease! WALL-E must be so proud!
Tytybox, this is extremely interesting and intriguing. I find it amazing that a living robot was created from repurposed living frog cells. Technology advancements are truly fascinating! I found a similar article (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417224715.htm) which states how researchers at the University of Leeds are using the feet of tree frogs as a model for a tiny robot designed to crawl inside patients’ bodies during keyhole surgery. I find it interesting how these researchers are already finding ways to directly use the living robots for human benefit and aid. Specifically in this article, the live robots would help surgeons see what they are doing on a real-time video feed within the internal abdominal wall of a patient. I am very excited to see the continuous advancement of technology in medicine in the years to come!
This article is very interesting. It is great to see how technology is able to help our bodies in new ways. I am excited to see how these frogs are used in the future and the steps they can make to making us healthier. I wonder if we will go down the path of make Robot to help better ourselves? I also found an article on how they are developing Robot Bees. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/03/517785082/rise-of-the-robot-bees-tiny-drones-turned-into-artificial-pollinators
This blog is very different and seems new and exciting. The technology can be beneficial to humans in the medicine world. It can potentially save lives. And it is good to know that scientists can still come up with new ways to put this invention to good use. A similar article I found was
TYTYBOX, I can’t lie, this freaks me out. I understand their practical use in the medical world, but I can’t wrap my head around how we’re going to be able to control the semi-autonomous “frogs” once they start a job. In the Live Science article “World’s First ‘Living Machine’ Created Using Frog Cells and Artificial Intelligence,” Sam Kriegman says, “There’s no external control from a remote control or bioelectricity. This is an autonomous agent — it’s almost like a wind-up toy” (https://www.livescience.com/frogbots-living-robots.html). I wonder what tools we’re going to develop in the future, because this sounds like it’s only the beginning of creating more complex organism-robots to do more and more complex tasks!
This is really cool! It is exciting to see technology develop, even if its immediate uses are not clear. I found an article that talks about “Robot Bees,” which can help endangered bees from extinction (https://www.dogtownmedia.com/ai-robot-bees-insects-extinction/). Hopefully this technology can keep developing and be used to help our environment.