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Robotics Technology

Robot Controlled By Human Brain Cells 86

destinyland writes "There's a new experiment from the British researchers who created a robot controlled by cultured rat neurons. They're now using a line of human brain neurons to control robots. The neurons are placed onto a multi-electrode dish that registers the neurons' electric signals. 'Every time the robot nears an object, the electrodes generate signals to stimulate the brain. In response, the brain's output is used to drive the wheels of the robot left and right so that it avoids hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer — its sole means of control is from its own brain.'"
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Robot Controlled By Human Brain Cells

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  • Not too smart (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:24AM (#29806811)
    Since the cells are not connected to the motors directly, there must be some other electronics involved. Since there is no mention of learning, and the behavior seems consistent, we should raise the suspicion that the neurons are acting like nothing more than wires. Or is this a case of interesting work being dumbed down for a YouTube clip?
  • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:02AM (#29807361)

    In 1998, Kevin Warwick implants a trivial RF resonator in his arm (the sticky plastic strip that warns Walmart that someone is stealing a pair of socks). He contacts the press, calls himself a cyborg, and gets tenure at Reading U.

    In 2001, he replaces his implant with an RFID tag, and calls the press again, and says, "Look at me, look at me! Now I'm an ACTIVE cyborg!" And he becomes a full professor at Reading U.

    And now Warwick gets 300,000 neurons to produce a simple binary response (go straight vs turn). He calls the press again, and says, "Look at what I can do just by waving my arm".

    Jackass. Worse, the media can't tell the difference between poseurs like him and real scientists like Sebastian Thrun or Rod Brooks.

  • Just A Few Thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:17AM (#29807593) Journal

    (pun unintended, and frankly not very funny, so forget it; same for that pun)

    1. The magazine h+ senior editor is RU Sirius. It is MONDO 2000, +20. Sirius is still Sirius, and seems to have foregone the +20 himself. He's actually no slouch, so when he senior-editorizes a magazine full of pseudoscience crap when he could have done better or at least different, I feel he's earned the right to the criticism rather than the fiction writers working as science article journalists. They start stupid, work stupid and produce stupid. He approves it for publication.

    2. Other articles in the magazine are equally absurd. Some make claims about specific phenomena or theories which are anywhere from fraudulent to simply goofy. I took one such article, claiming that depression is lack of "fun" to task over at The Daily Grail. The article is just bullshit in its best parts. There's worse.

    3. Using neurons in this design is enormously overly complex. There was an article in SciAm in which little battery powered cars were given photo-cells or photo-resistive cells as "eyes", those driving the back wheels on the same side, or on the other side, making 4 different designs that react to light. They approach fast and slow down, or slowly at first then rush in, or they zoom away and orbit the edges slowly or else creep away and at the outer area zoom around. The anthromorphization of their actions is multiplied when many of each 'species' are placed on th same floor with protruding light bulbs at several locations. It's not that the neurons don;t do the job, it's just that they're a computational device based far beyond the need, and that non-computational, analog increasing/decreasing voltage circuits do much more for much less.

    4. Given the falsification of a different h+ article of equally strong claims, I serious(!)ly doubt the existence of the items in TFA. In fact I wouldn't believe anything I read in this magazine, if for no other reason than that the New Agey products in the ads are, while absurd themselves, more believable than the articles.

  • Not a robot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AP31R0N ( 723649 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:29AM (#29807789)

    If it's being controlled, it's not a robot. It's a car for rat brain cells. It's not following a program, it's being steered. While we're at it, the battle bots/robot wars are not robots either. They are remote controlled cars with weapons and armor. My car is not a robot just because it is a machine. If i attach some kind of Myth Busters control system... it's still not a robot. Until it's driving itself, it ain't a robot.

    Also: a robot is an android IFF is is human shaped. T1000, C3P0 - Yes. R2D2 - No.

    i think a show about ACTUAL ROBOTS hunting each other down would be way cooler. i'd have a category for 'Onboard Brain' and another for 'Remote Brain'. Maybe categories for environment: Water, Air, Land. Then maybe size class. It would be nerdgasmic.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama