Skip to Content

Neurons Control Robot

Scientists give a robot a biological “brain.”

Researchers at the University of Reading, in England, have developed a robot controlled by a biological “brain.” Hundreds of thousands of rat neurons communicate via a multielectrode array–a dish with over 60 two-way electrodes that transmit signals between neurons and outside electronics–to control the movement of a wheeled robot. When the neurons receive signals that the robot is nearing an object, their output moves the wheels in an attempt to avoid obstacles. The researchers, led by neuroscientists Mark Hammond, Ben Whalley, and cyberneticist Kevin Warwick, suggest that by stimulating the neurons with different signals as the robot returns to a familiar location, they will be able to study how a brain stores data. Their goal is to eventually understand memory formation and disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Researchers have used live neurons to control robots in the past, but those involved a computer between the neurons and robot. One of the more public projects, MEART (multielectrode array art), turned signals from cultured rat neurons at the Georgia Institute of Technology into the movements of a picture-drawing robot at the University of Western Australia.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.