Robot Uses Rat Brain to Avoid Obsticles

The University of Reading in England has a new robot named Gordon with a biological brain. The brain is composed of rat neurons, and the robot uses it to avoid bunping into things

The following press release was issued by the University of Reading on August 14th

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Reading has developed a robot which is controlled by a biological brain formed from cultured neurons. This cutting edge research is the first step to examine how memories manifest themselves in the brain, and how a brain stores specific pieces of data. The key aim is that eventually this will lead to a better understanding of development and of diseases and disorders which affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and brain injury.

The robot’s biological brain is made up of cultured neurons which are placed onto a multi electrode array (MEA). The MEA is a dish with approximately 60 electrodes which pick up the electrical signals generated by the cells. This is then used to drive the movement of the robot. Every time the robot nears an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes. In response, the brain’s output is used to drive the wheels of the robot, left and right, so that it moves around in an attempt to avoid hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain.

For more information please contact Dr Lucy Chappell on 0118 378 7391 or 0751 518 8751 or email

You can read the full press release Here

I have written the university in hope of getting them to ship me the rats that they have removed the brains from. I want to equip these rats with the latest 8 bit microcontrollers from Texas Instruments and then have them compete with the robots with the rat brains.

 I haven’t heard back from them though. Oh well.

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