Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
Rats have been finding their way around in human-built spaces for millennia. At the Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, Michael Milford and his collaborators have spent the past 14 years honing a robot navigation system modeled on the brains of rats.
(Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats)
The lowly brown rat, by contrast, is a nimble navigator that has no problem finding its way around, under, over, and through the toughest spaces. When a rat explores an unfamiliar territory, specialized neurons in its 2-gram brain fire, or spike, in response to landmarks or boundaries. Other neurons spike at regular distances—once every 20 centimeters, every meter, and so on—creating a kind of mental representation of space [PDF]. Yet other neurons act like an internal compass, recording the direction in which the animal’s head is turned [PDF]. Taken together, this neural activity allows the rat to remember where it’s been and how it got there. Whenever it follows the same path, the spikes strengthen, making the rat’s navigation more robust.
So why can’t a robot be more like a rat?
I think that science fiction writers of past generations felt the same way, and used similar creatures to inspire their robot dreams. For example, Ray Bradbury wrote about robot mice in The Martian Chronicles:
Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were acrawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their mustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house was clean.
Even earlier, Eric Frank Russell described golden shuttles in his classic 1941 short story The Mechanical Mice.
Via IEEE Spectrum. See also Why Rat-Brained Robots Are So Good at Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/6/2017)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...' - Philip K. Dick, 1969.
X2-VelociRoACH Cooperates To Launch Tiny Drones
Little robots cooperating can do big tasks. Eventually.
An 'Ethical Black Box' For Robots?
Explored by science fiction authors.
Kino Project Roaming Personal Fashion Robots
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...' - Robert Forward, 1985.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!
Clever Electric Truck Generates More Power Than It Uses
Better than a fictional electrotruck!
Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again."
Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...'
Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.
MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'
Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'
CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'
Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories