Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Machines Enhanced with Neural Computing

Georgia Tech Researchers Use Lab Cultures to Control Robotic Device,
Atlanta (April 24, 2003) The Hybrot, a small robot that moves about using the brain signals of a rat, is the first robotic device whose movements are controlled by a network of cultured neuron cells. Steve Potter and his research team in the Laboratory for Neuroengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying the basics of learning, memory, and information processing using neural networks in vitro. Their goal is to create computing systems that perform more like the human brain. Potter, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, presented his most recent findings last month during the Third International Conference on Substrate-Integrated Microelectrodes in Texas. As the lead researcher on a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Potter is connecting laboratory cultures containing living neurons to computers in order to create a simulated animal, which he describes as a neurally-controlled animat.

“Calgary scientist grows brain cells on microchip,” CBC News, 1 March 2004
Canadian and German researchers have grown snail nerve cells on a microchip and showed the cells have memory and can communicate. The researchers say this melding of machine and biology has a wide-range of potential applications..

“Robot moved by slime mould’s fears,”

by Will Knight, NewScientist, 13 Feb 2006.
A bright yellow slime mould that can grow to several metres in diameter has been put in charge of a scrabbling, six-legged robot. The Physarum polycephalum slime, which naturally shies away from light, controls the robot's movement so that it too keeps out of light and seeks out dark places in which to hide itself. They grew slime in a six-pointed star shape on top of a circuit and connected it remotely, via a computer, to the hexapod bot. Any light shone on sensors mounted on top of the robot were used to control light shone onto one of the six points of the circuit-mounted mould – each corresponding to a leg of the bot. As the slime tried to get away from the light its movement was sensed by the circuit and used to control one of the robot's six legs. The robot then scrabbled away from bright lights as a mechanical embodiment of the mould.

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