Darwin VII Robot Has 20,000 Brain Cells

Posted 8 Nov 2005 at 04:11 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

US Scientists have developed a trashcan-shaped robot that has 20,000 brain cells. The robot named "Darwin VII" has a mobile base and can see with a CCD camera, hear with microphones, taste via conductivity sensors, can turn it's head and even grab things. It works by tasting everything and discovers what tastes good or bad. For example, the robot finds that tasting blocks with one type of pattern tastes good and blocks with another pattern tastes bad. The robot learns to stop tasting the blocks that have the pattern that indicates bad taste and continue tasting the blocks that have a pattern associated with good taste. Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in La Jolla, California say the robot operates on biological principles and without any pre-specified instructions.

no pre-specified instructions?, posted 8 Nov 2005 at 15:35 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

I'm unable to find this article but will continue to look.

The brief states that it selects "what tastes good or bad" without "pre-specified instructions". There would have to be initial tweaking of the neural net to facilitate this and/or some feedback loop where the determination of "good or bad" could be made. Biological systems come with plenty of neural presets.


Some additional links, posted 8 Nov 2005 at 20:44 UTC by steve » (Master)

Looks like these articles all picked up the story from New Scientist. Their article is a pay-per-view, so I don't know where it came from. If there was a new paper released, I haven't seen it yet.

Gerald M. Edelman is a well known theorist on the subject of mind and consciousness. He disagrees with Daniel Dennett on the subject of qualia but otherwise both are materialists (e.g. they believe mind and consciousness arise from real things found in your head as opposed to souls, spirits, quantum weirdness, etc). He's published several books and lots of papers on his theories. Somebody at (motters?) was working on his own implementation of Edelman's theories a while back. Not sure if anything interesting came of it.

Jeffrey L. Krichmar

You can probably get a rough idea of their current project from some of their papers on the older NOMAD project.

Details about DARWIN can be gleaned from this 2004 paper on DARWIN VIII (PDF format). I don't see any mention of specifically "20,000 brain cells". They do mention that DARWIN VIII has a cortical area of 53,450 simulated neuronal units with 1.7 million synpatic connections. Computation was carried out on a Beowulf cluster of 12 1.2GHz Pentium IV linux boxes, which allow complete recalculation of connection states every 100ms.

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