Byjus Logo

Meet the first living robot! – Xenobots

Team StoryWeavers|April 20, 2020, 07:46 IST| 24

Are you a sci-fi fan? Think about your favourite sci-fi movie, how it goes beyond the limitations of science and makes you believe that a man can be half human and half robot or that a robot can also be a living being. These movies always fascinate us as they transport us to a different world. But what if we tell you that these sci-fi movies are closer to reality than you think?

Behold! The ‘New Creature’ created by mankind – Xenobots 

Xenobots - the first living robot created by scientists.

Xenobots – the first living robot created by scientists.

Yes! A team of scientists has recently developed a new creature called ‘xenobots’ which is as alive as you and I but is actually a robot. And surprisingly, they do not have any legs, arms, head or eyes.

At first glance, they may look like a sloppy, blurry blob but when observed under a microscope, these millimetre-wide ‘xenobots’ can be seen swimming around, as if they were born to do so.

Birth of these strange little Xenobots 

The size of Xenobots is 1mm

  The size of Xenobots is 1mm

Now you must be wondering how scientists created this ‘new creature’? Well, xenobots were designed on a supercomputer using the stem cells from the embryo of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis (and hence the name ‘xenobots’). These xenobots are composed of only two things – skin cells and heart muscle cells and are just about 1 millimeter (0.01 centimeter) wide. Their skin cells provide them rigid support and the heart cells act as tiny motors, which propel them to move in linear or circular directions. They were developed by a team of scientists at the University of Vermont and then were tested in the lab at the Turf University.

A groundbreaking creation

Composed of 500-1000 living cells, xenobots have some amazing features.

  • They are designed to walk, swim, push or carry an object, and work together.
  • They can move towards a target and carry a payload (for example, medicine that needs to be placed at a certain location inside a patient)
  • They come in many shapes, which are designed by roboticists.
  • They can survive for a week by feeding on the small platelets of yolk that fill each of its cells.
  • They can self heal after a cut.
  • Although they are described as ‘programmable living robots’, they are completely organic and are made of living tissues.

With all these features, xenobots have been described as novel living machines by Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert who co-led this research. Bongard says that xenobots are “neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal”, but “a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism”.

Possible applications

With a remarkable combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biology, xenobots are currently used as a scientific tool to understand the functions of individual cells and how they cooperate to build complex bodies during morphogenesis (the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape.). But considering their potential, xenobots can be used for a host of tasks.

  • Studies say that xenobots could be used to clean our polluted oceans by collecting microplastics and cleaning up radioactive waste.
  • They could also carry medicines inside human bodies and place them at the targeted location.
  • Since they can survive in an aquatic environment for a week without any additional food, they could be suitable for internal drug delivery.
  • Given their biodegradable nature, they would also have an edge with technologies made of metal and plastic.

We are sure that in the coming years, we will see more scientific innovations like xenobots that would evoke wonder and also some amount of concern. What if in the future, xenobots find a way to go beyond laboratories and reproduce in the wild? After all, as the famous Dr. Ian Malcolm in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ says, “Life, Ah, finds a way!” 

Did you find this article useful? Do let us know in the comments below.

Are you interesting in a  career in robotics? Read here:

Step into the future with a career in Robotics

About the Author

Books are Tanaya Goswami’s first love and cheesecakes come a close second. Talking about movies, music, calligraphy, politics, and Elon Musk will get you listed under the friends’ section of her diary. Ever since moving on from her job as an English lecturer, she spends her time at BYJU’S crafting stories filled with emotion and sprinkled with sarcasm. Outside of work, she’s either learning something new (French, most recently!) or is curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. She firmly believes that discovering what you don’t know is the key to knowledge and is constantly working towards improving herself. Drop in a line at if you liked her stories, have something nice to say, or if you have compelling ideas to share!

Leave a Comment




July 23, 2020

Excellent invention and if it happens in the future it will be fantastic !!!

Srinjay Sengupta

July 14, 2020

I love technology!it is very cool and helping in our modern world but.. if we depend everything on robots it will be bad for us and our health. So let’s always not depend on technology and I am not saying that we should not or never use robots we should because you know I love and fan of technology I am just telling to not always depend upon technology and stay safe stay healthy ??.

Varshini Pedapudi

July 14, 2020

I still can’t belive how can living cells can act according to how they were programed. But we should appreciate the scientist who thought to make robots organic.

Ananya Rajesh

July 6, 2020

Intresting & Awesome???

Dhyanam Bhatt

June 9, 2020

Please give more informative emails. Just lovin’ it.

kartik rohilla

June 5, 2020

Probably it would be helpful in vaccine of COVID-19.

Adyashree Tamanna Das

June 4, 2020

Wow ! It means future is going to be more awesome ?
Seriously I could not wonder??

Nived shaji

April 23, 2020


Nived shaji

April 23, 2020

WOW Awesome ??

Sameer Bhardwaj

April 22, 2020

This article was really very very interesting.

Arindam Paul

April 22, 2020

Amazing!!!I love robotics!!

Arindam Paul

April 22, 2020

Fascinating!!!I love robotics!


April 22, 2020

Great valuable information


April 22, 2020

Useful excellent


April 22, 2020

Amazing , not known before thanks for telling us .????


April 21, 2020

Noone no what future is waiting have for us


April 21, 2020

Excellent ??


April 20, 2020

well this invention is a remarkable stepping stone for mankind? and it compels me to think that the first living being might also would have been created like this by some alien species on some other planet???

Trrishan Saha

April 20, 2020


Amogh Kottada

April 20, 2020

Awesome ?


April 20, 2020

Wow! this is a mind blowing invention


April 20, 2020

Fantastic , it creates my interest more in robots .??


April 20, 2020

Amazing! I wonder what will happen in the future ?


Join 100+MN Registered BYJU'S Users

Book Your Free Class Now

Thank you!

Your details have been submitted