Chinese Researchers Are Creating Robot Nannies To Nurture Babies In Artificial Wombs
Researchers in China have developed a robotic artificial intelligence system to care for embryos as they grow in an artificial womb.
According to The Independent, the robotic nanny is already nurturing several animal foetuses.
The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering, said they intend to develop technology that could enable parents to grow a baby in a lab, eliminating the need for women to fall pregnant themselves.
They said the robot intends 'to optimize and improve the system for in-vitro embryo culture' while also adding they wanted to create 'an online monitoring system' designed for 'long-term culture of embryos'.
According to the research, the system also allows embryos to be nurtured more effectively than in a natural womb.
The report also added: "There are still many unsolved mysteries about the physiology of typical human embryonic development."
Creating such technology would also help understand the origin of life and 'embryonic development of humans' while providing answers for solving congenital disabilities and other significant reproductive health problems.
In 2019, Associate Professor in Law Neera Bhatia and Bioethicist and public health researcher Evie Kendal wrote in their article for The Conversation artificial wombs could aid premature babies.
They wrote: "Currently, those born earlier than 22 weeks gestation have little-to-no hope of survival. And those born at 23 weeks are likely to suffer a range of disabilities.
"Using a sealed 'biobag', which mimics the maternal womb, might help extremely premature babies survive and improve their quality of life."
They also mentioned an experiment where a group of neonatologists successfully grew lamb foetuses in an artificial womb for four weeks in 2017.
Previous attempts to grow foetuses were successful, but only for a few hours. However, the doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia could support the lamb foetuses for 28 days.
The system used to support the lamb foetuses resembled a vast zip lock bag filled with amniotic fluid.
Director of the Centre for Fetal Research Dr Alan Flake told The Huffington Post at the time: "If our system is as successful as we think it can be, ultimately the majority of pregnancies predicted at-risk for extreme prematurity would be delivered onto a system that keeps them immersed, rather than being delivered onto a ventilator."
So, there you have it, soon you'll be able to pair an AI nanny with these simulated wombs; the future is closer than you think!