Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Robot Controlled by Brain in a Dish

Researchers at Georgia Tech are experimenting with home grown rat brains connected to remote robots.

A group led by Dr. Steve Potter at the Laboratory for Neuroengineering has succesfully connected lumps of living brain tissue to virtual and mechanical robots. The cells are from mammal brains, for example a rat.

The brain cells are cultured on multi-electrode arrays so there is intimate communication with the neurons. The thinking mass is then given a body via a computer interpreter.

The cells can be brought to life as a virtual creature called an animat in a video game style universe or they can be connected to moving robot bodies.

In one application the brain living in Atlanta was connected to a robot arm in Australia and allowed to express its tortured existence through art.
The resulting drawings looked like random scribblings which clearly expressed the torment of the brain during the gruesome experiement.

In other experiments the brain is embodied by a rolling robot. Researchers call these creations hybrots for 'hybrid living robot.'

The mechanical body is allowed to interact with another robot which does not have a brain and moves about randomly. The hybrots are given very simple instructions to follow or evade the other robot. The goal is to get the brain cells to perform tasks with unquestioning obedience.

So far they have not tried rat-brain-driven robots for any of the popular applications like vacuuming or bomb disposal.
Hopefully they are not working on a way to weaponize the creatures.

With fresh brains grown directly inside robots we may not have all those jobs for humans in the future after all.

Wired News: It's Alive (ish)


Blogger Bob Mottram said...

Experiments like this might be useful to find out exactly how neurons are able to control muscles, communicate and learn but I doubt that this approach will b commercially viable in the long run. A pure software brain, derrived from biological principles, can be coppied endless times at next to zero cost, whereas biological brains have to be painstakingly cultured, fed and trained.

3:13 PM, August 01, 2006  
Anonymous Cristobal said...

I think the daleks from Dr. Who were these types of things- (evil) brains mated with robot bodies.

6:43 PM, August 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Daleks were genetically engineered people and are more than a brain inside the case. But that may be more info than anyone cares about. lol

4:19 PM, October 12, 2006  

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