The new creatures were designed on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at University of Vermont’s Vermont Advanced Computing Core, then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University.
The computer went through hundreds of potential designs, keeping the best for study and throwing out those with fatal flaws.
Stem cells scraped from African frog embryos were separated into single cells and left to incubate.
With help from microsurgeon Douglas Blackiston, the cells were then cut using a tiny electrode, and joined under a microscope.
“The skin cells formed a more passive architecture, while the once-random contractions of heart muscle cells were put to work creating ordered forward motion as guided by the computer’s design, and aided by spontaneous self-organizing patterns—allowing the robots to move on their own.”
In their study, the team wrote, “this study, for the first time ever, designs completely biological machines from the ground up”.