Scientists create navigating robot using rat brain neurons

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The Independent Online

A biological robot controlled by a blob of rat brain has been created by British scientists.

The wheeled machine is wirelessly linked to a bundle of neurons kept at body temperature in a sterile cabinet. Signals from the "brain" allow the robot to steer to avoid objects in its path.

Researchers at the University of Reading are now trying to "teach" the robot to become familiar with its surroundings. Professor Kevin Warwick, who led the project, said: "This new research is tremendously exciting as firstly the biological brain controls its own moving robot body, and secondly it will enable us to investigate how the brain learns and memorises its experiences."

The team is now getting the robot to learn how to navigate. Eventually the robot will be able to recognise familiar surroundings it has memorised.

At the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, researchers have built a similar mobile machine. New Scientist magazine said the US team was training the robot as if it was an animal learning tricks.