Academic journal article Science Scope

Robots with Insect Brains

Academic journal article Science Scope

Robots with Insect Brains

Article excerpt

Researchers have developed a robot that perceives environmental stimuli and learns to react to them. Using the relatively simple nervous system of the honeybee as a model, the research team installed a camera on a small robotic vehicle and connected the camera to a computer. A computer program then replicated the sensorimotor network of the insect brain. The input data came from the camera, which-akin to an eye- received and projected visual information. The neural network, in turn, operated the motors of the robot wheels-and could thus control its direction of motion.

The most outstanding feature of this artificial mini-brain is its ability to learn by simple principles. "The network-controlled robot is able to link certain external stimuli with behavioral rules," says Martin Paul Nawrot, head of the research team. "Much like honeybees learn to associate certain flower colors with tasty nectar, the robot learns to approach certain colored objects and to avoid others."

During the learning experiment, the scientists placed the network-controlled robot in the center of a small arena. …

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