August 14, 2008
In what has to be a ground-breaking event, the University of Reading’s (UK) Cybernetic Intelligence Research Group (CIRG) have constructed a robot that has an organic “brain” made of cultured neurons. Control of the robot is done completly from the brain, WITHOUT HUMAN INPUT.
The project is, surprisingly, not about creating a race of cyborgs:
This cutting edge research is the first step to examine how memories manifest themselves in the brain, and how a brain stores specific pieces of data. The key aim is that eventually this will lead to a better understanding of development and of diseases and disorders which affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stoke and brain injury.
So, no robot/cyborg overlords. Not just yet… The main goal of the brain-bot is to study how the brain works in terms of memory storage. Of course, that doesn’t mean other applications are not possible:
(From Roland Piquepaille, ZDNet) The area of focus is notably the use of electrode technology, where a connection is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. The presentation will consider the future in which robots have biological, or part-biological, brains and in which neural implants link the human nervous system bi-directionally with technology and the internet.
There’s also this video (a 95MB video) about the bot and a couple of its creators (I’ll be checking it out when I have some time).
UPDATE: It looks like the video link above has “expired,” so here’s a video from New Scientist showing the bot in action: