Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life


jeudi 19 décembre 2002
 

Today, we'll learn a new word: hybrot, short for "hybrid robot."

Steve Potter, who is a professor of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a brand new robot. He calls it a hybrot and this is a thinker, not a fighter. David Cameron has the story.

The device, which Potter calls a hybrot, is in essence a rat-controlled robot, and marks the first instance in which cultured neurons have been used to control a robotic mechanism. And while the hybrotís movements may appear less than graceful, the knowledge gained could lead to computer chips modeled on biological systems -- and perhaps even to computers that incorporate biological components.

Here is a picture of the hybrot (courtesy of the Georgia Tech Laboratory for Neuroengineering.)

The rat-brained robot (courtesy of the Georgia Tech Laboratory for Neuroengineering)
In his experiment, Potter places a droplet of solution containing thousands of rat neuron cells onto a silicon chip thatís embedded with 60 electrodes connected to an amplifier. The electrical signals that the cells fire at one another are picked up by the electrodes which then send the amplified signal into a computer. The computer, in turn, wirelessly relays the data to the robot.
The robot then manifests this neuronal activity with physical motion, each of its movements a direct result of neurons talking to neurons. And the robot also sends information back to the cells. Equipped with light sensors, the robot receives input about its location in the playpen from infrared signals lining the borders.

For more details, please read the full article.

Source: David Cameron, Technology Review, December 18, 2002


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