Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Robots with Insect-Like Brains: Robots Learn to Navigate Environment Guided by External Stimuli

Researchers of Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, of the Bernstein Fokus Neuronal Basis of Learning, and of the Bernstein Center Berlin and have developed a robot that perceives environmental stimuli and learns to react to them. The scientists used the relatively simple nervous system of the honeybee as a model for its working principles. To this end, they installed a camera on a small robotic vehicle and connected it to a computer. The computer program replicated in a simplified way the sensorimotor network of the insect brain. The input data came from the camera that-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 motion direction. The 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 Professor Martin Paul Nawrot, head of the research team and professor of neuroscience at Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. "Much like honeybees learn to associate certain flower colors with tasty nectar, the robot learns to approach certain colored objects and to avoid others." more

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