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The world’s first “living robots” are now capable of something that’s essential to the survival of any species: reproduction.

Known as Xenobots, the organisms use an entirely novel form of biological self-replication, according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study authors discovered that the machines can gather hundreds of single cells and assemble them into “baby” Xenobots. After a few days, the offspring evolve to look and move just like their parents.

The progeny can then repeat the process over and over again.

“People have thought for quite a long time that we’ve worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate,” said study co-author Douglas Blackiston, the senior scientist at Tufts University, in a statement. “But this is something that’s never been observed before.”

The millimeter-wide Xenobots are assembled from living cells scraped from frog embryos.

Confined to Petri dishes, their lives are very different from those of their amphibious ancestors.

“They would be sitting on the outside of a tadpole,  keeping out pathogens and redistributing mucus,” said Michael Levin, a biologist at Tufts University and co-leader of the new research.

“But we’re putting them into a novel context. We’re  giving them a chance to reimagine their multicellularity.”

Independently, a Xenobot can produce children, but the system normally dies soon after. To give the parents a chance to see their kids grow up, the researchers turned to AI.