Forget batteries and wires. Can we build robots out of synthetic DNA?

frey synthetic babies

It’s long been a dream of many to build robots that look and act like humans. After all, there’s a reason that the most beloved robots from entertainment and culture – C3PO from Star Wars, or Data from Star Trek, for instance – are so humanlike.

Rather than build them out of batteries, central processing units, servos and hydraulic joints, what if artificial lifeforms could be made using technologies that mimic the biochemical processes of life itself?

A team at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China might have just taken the first step, using DNA-based materials … .

In a paper published in the journal Science Robotics, Shogo Hamada and colleagues report the invention of a system they dub DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical materials, or DASH.


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By using different pathways through the channels and obstacles in the mixing chambers, or by tweaking the ingredients, DASH can be directed to move like a slime mould. DNA growing at one end of a structure can be made to break down, as fresh material is created at the other, making the whole effectively crawl along a surface.

Hamada and colleagues consider the results to be bioengineered machines, complete with emergent regeneration and locomotion behaviours.

Read full, original post: Roboticists induce artificial metabolism in synthetic DNA

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