Cornell Engineers Develop Robotic Material Displaying Key Features of Life

by April 22, 2019 0 comments

Robotic Material

With more and more innovation coming along the way, technology is bridging the gap between human and machines. The line is becoming more blurred between machines and mortals. Experts have developed a new biomaterial which is not alive yet depicts three major traits of human life – metabolism, and self-assembly.

Reportedly, this biomaterial can crawl forward like eukaryotic organisms. They also tend to grow new stands from the front as the older ones at the back decay and fall. The researchers have even set up a race among the different samples in the lab.

The scientists have named it as DASH which stands for DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical materials. The instructions encoded in the biomaterial for metabolism and regeneration is similar to the DNA in any living organism.

Dan Luo from Cornell University in New York said, “We are introducing a brand new, life-like material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism. We are not making something that’s alive, but we are creating materials that are much more life-like than have ever been seen before.”

DASH contains nanoscale building blocks at its core, which are responsible for rearranging materials into polymers. These polymers eventually form larger shapes while repeating the DNA chain.

The biomaterial is grown from 55-nucleotide base seed sequence. These sequences combine with reaction solution to provide a liquid flow of energy. Next. the energy allows the DNA to synthesize new strands if its own.

Luo further asserted, “Everything from its ability to move and compete, all those processes are self-contained. There’s no external interference. Life began billions of years from perhaps just a few kinds of molecules. This might be the same.”

Shogo Hamada from Cornell University said, “The designs are still primitive, but they showed a new route to create dynamic machines from biomolecules. We are at a first step of building life-like robots by artificial metabolism. Even from a simple design, we were able to create sophisticated behaviors like racing. Artificial metabolism could open a new frontier in robotics.”

Although the life-imitating feature of this biomaterial is quite basic, yet it sets the hope that one-day robots will construct other robots themselves resulting in self-replicating without owing much to human involvement.

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