video by Douglas Blackiston
Fauna Systems’ mission is to commercialize Xenobot applications to a variety of Industries and to Medicine. Our goal is to apply this transformative technology to solve some of the pressing problems in human health, environmental remediation and bio-engineering.
Our business model is Bot As A Service: we design and manufacture function-specific
Xenobots for client applications.
THE BIRTH of the XENOBOTS
Traditional robots are made of rigid materials that allow precise, predictable control Soft robots use non- rigid, non-living materials that trade precision for flexibility
In early 2020, the co-founders of Fauna Systems, Joshua Bongard
(University of Vermont) and \Michael Levin (Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University), and jointly the Institute for Computer Developed Organisms
(ICDO), were among the lead authors of a paper showcasing a remarkable achievement: the world’s first computer-designed living organism.
This was the birth of the XENOBOT
XENOBOTS are collections of living cells that can be designed and programmed to do useful work – sensing, processing, and acting upon their physical environment. Xenobots are alive and are a new form of organisms, designed by a synthesis of AI and Biology.
The New York Times called these tiny cell clusters, which could move and self-repair, “a new class of living robotics” with the potential to profoundly change science, medicine and our understanding of life itself.
photo by Douglas Blackiston
XENOBOTS ARE ALIVE & SMART
ADAPTATION Senses and adapts to its environment
HOMEOSTASIS Conserve their biochemistry, body shape and function
PERSISTENCE Can sometimes assemble copies of themselves from loose cells
BODY UNIVERSALITY Can be composed of a variety of cell types (skin, muscle, nerves etc.)
and combined with a variety of supports and “skeletons”
FUNCTIONAL UNIVERSALITY Can exhibit motility, capture, sensing, reporting, digesting,
signaling etc. at macroscopic level. Individual body cells can be genetically engineered to express a variety
of functions at microscopic level (chemical sensing with change of state, membrane protein expression,
emission of cytokines etc.)
EMERGENCE through COMMUNICATION Could form a super-organism from dissociated communicating parts
OPTIMIZABLE Top-down programmable (AI designs bot shapes and behaviors) and bottom-up manufacturable
(bio-fabrication convinces cells to self-organize into bots).
HOW WE BUILD XENOBOTS
Standard robots are built from unintelligent parts, making it easy for new environments to overwhelm them. Xenobots break the standard robotics paradigm because they are intelligent machines coherently built from cells that are smaller intelligent machines. Rich feedback between the organism and its cells keep the robot performing well under a wide range of situations. Our design process can be pictured as follows:
Target Functionality = Macro behavior + Biochemical features
Step 1 : “AI STEP”
Interaction of simulation Engine (Digital model of body shape and physics engine) And of Search / Optimization
Feedback Engine (based on evolutionary algorithms and other AI that mutates shapes and simulates long-term behavior)
==> Digital Twin of target body shape
Step 2: “WETWARE STEP”
(Epi)Genetic modifications of a collections of precursor body cells to achieve specific biochemical functionality (expression of cytosolic and membrane proteins, reporter and signaling pathways, etc.)
Emergent assembly of target body shape according to the architecture of the Digital Twin
Step 3: “ REAL WORLD FEEDBACK”
Automated observation of Xenobots’ behavior and comparison to Target Behaviors ==>
Error-correction back to Step 1 starting from Digital Twin until Target Functionality achieved.