In a world first, Chinese researchers have cloned pigs completely automated using robots, and more efficiently than human breeders, which could help the world’s largest pork consumer be less reliant on imported breeding pigs.
Chinese clone pigs for food supply using robots in world first
As the largest consumer of pork in the world, China has been reliant on importing breeding pigs to meet the demand for the nation’s food supply. But a newly developed process may soon change all that.
For the first time ever, anywhere in the world, a completely automated process of cloning without the involvement of humans has successfully been performed using robots.
Last March, researchers from the College of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Nankai in China successfully accomplished the birth of seven cloned piglets to a surrogate mother, the South China Morning Post reported.
Less error without human involvement
As the saying goes: “To err is human.” This latest scientific advancement adds one more task at which, apparently, robots and artificial intelligence can outperform Homo sapiens, more efficiently, without error
“Each step of the cloning process was automated, and no human operation was involved,” said Liu Yaowei, a member of the team who developed the system and process, Mashable reported. “Our AI-powered system can calculate the strain within a cell and direct the robot to use minimal force to complete the cloning process, which reduces the cell damage caused by human hands.”
New method could revolutionize cloning
The traditional method of cloning is more tedious and time-consuming compared to the new system the researchers developed. In the previous method, humans would have to work by hand and a laborious and painful effort. Further, in the traditional process, cells were damaged along the way, limiting the number of successful clones.
But the new system can be revolutionary, especially when distributed at scale, says Pan Dengke, a former researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences who helped produce China’s first cloned pig in 2015. He says the new system utilizing robots results in a lower rate of damaged cells, making the success rate of the cloning process notably higher.
Researchers believe the new system eliminates some of the major factors that have held back the advancement of cloning, Phuket News reports. These new advances could result in the development of cloning kits that could be used by companies and research institutions, leading to the widespread adoption of cloning.
Will it mean that breeders of other types of animals for the food supply, such as beef, begin to adopt automated artificial intelligence and robotic systems to increase their breeding? Only time will tell.