Ed Okerson was thefirst of many robots.net readers who sent linksto a NewScientist story about the rat-brained robot from theUnivserity of Reading.
Instead of the usual silicon-based embeddedcontroller, this robot sports a carbon-based unit made up of 300,000 ratbrain neurons. The mini-brain lives in a jar of nutrients andantibiotics. A multi-electrode array (MEA) feeds sensor information intothe brain andtransports control signals out of the brain to the motors.
Unfortunately,the brain is growing so bored that it’s exhibiting bursts ofseizure-like activity. “Like a creature with no limbs or senses, thecut-down brain is simply bursting out of boredom”. While the ratbrain may not be enjoying life much, the scientists are having a blastand suggest the research may help them understand Alzheimer’s,Parkinson’s, epilepsy,and other diseases caused by malfunctioning neurons.
For more, see theBBC storyand video, the Slashdotdiscussion, or original Universityof Reading press release.
Update: Roland Piquepaille just posted about this robot as well.