The term Animat is further explained in the excellent and always interesting Nanotech Glossary over at Nanotechnology Now.
Animat: This term was developed by Alan H. Goldstein, who is credited with coining the term 'Animat' in his article I, Nanobot, in which he suggested that a new category or state of life might best be named by making a contraction of the less wieldy term "anima-materials," which he reduced down to "animats". This synthetic life form, a form of semi-autonomous nano-biological subsystem, would have to pass three distinct tests in order to satisfy Goldstein's conditions:
First, it has to survive inside of our ecosphere, including operating within the human body.
Second, it would have to partake of some sort of biological or pseudo-biological metabolism, perhaps using human glucose-oxidizing enzymes in some sort of fuel cell arrangement.
Thirdly, it has to be able to self-replicate on a molecular level without storing any of its information in DNA, RNA or any other system already used by an existing, natural lifeform as that would make it a biological type of organism and not what Goldstein calls Animat.
So there you have it: Animat -- a fresh, new and improved synthetic form of life that is both unique and distinct from all that has come before it. An intriguing concept and one we intend to explore in-depth as Riskail continues.