Attack of the Rat-Bots

MIT Tech Review has an fascinating piece today about a robot at Georgia Tech that runs on rat brain. Researchers took cultured rat neurons and placed them on a silicon chip with suspended electrodes in it. As the neurons fire, they excite the electrodes, which in turn send signals to the drive motors of the robot. Right now, the steering is a little…ah…erratic. Researchers hope that feedback might allow some learning, and therefore, make rat-bot into a better driver. The bot is equipped with light sensors for proximity navigation. Triggering of these sensors send electrical impulses back into the neuronal soup. Feedback! They’re now looking for any evidence that the rat “brain” is learning anything after closing the loop.