A Robot Controlled by Self Organizing Biological Neural Net

Posted: August 13, 2008 by Spaceweaver in Brain, Neuroscience, Robotics
Tags: ,
Looks like a Groundbreaking experiment.
clipped from www.engadget.com

It looks like a group of researchers from the University of Reading are making a solid run at the title of mad scientists of the year (in the best sense, of course), with them now boasting that they’ve developed a robot that’s controlled by a “biological brain.”
That’s not quite the sci-fi sight you may be imagining, however (though it’s close), with it instead made up of some 300,000 neurons taken from the neural cortex of a rat fetus, which are contained in multi electrode array that packs 60 electrodes to pick up the signals generated by the cells and, in turn, control the robot.
clipped from www.physorg.com
Because the brain is living tissue, it must be housed in a special temperature-controlled unit — it communicates with its “body” via a Bluetooth radio link.
The robot has no additional control from a human or computer.
From the very start, the neurons get busy. “Within about 24 hours, they start sending out feelers to each other and making connections,”
“Within a week we get some spontaneous firings and brain-like activity” similar to what happens in a normal rat — or human — brain, he added.
But without external stimulation, the brain will wither and die within a couple of months.
“Now we are looking at how best to teach it to behave in certain ways,” explained Warwick.

To some extent, Gordon learns by itself. When it hits a wall, for example, it gets an electrical stimulation from the robot’s sensors. As it confronts similar situations, it learns by habit.

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