Japanese scientists have created the world’s first ‘thinking’ robot that is able to steer its way around walls and obstacles.
Brain-like neurons in robots grow in the laboratory and when the cells are electrically stimulated, the machine successfully navigates a small maze.
A technique called ‘physical reservoir computing’ has enabled it to sense brain waves and overcome obstacles, the researchers said.
Co-author Professor Hirokazu Takahashi said: “These nerve cells, or neurons, were grown from living cells.
“They served as a physical repository for computers to manufacture coherent signals.”
This is the first time a robot has been “taught” intelligence. Signals passed on to the environment information as it moved through the maze.
If the AI (artificial intelligence) vehicle spins in the wrong direction or faces the wrong path, neurons in the cell culture are disturbed by an electrical impulse. In a series of trials it was fed cues continuously until the task was completed.
The circular machine — about three inches in diameter and two inches high — will fit in the palm of your hand.
Prof Takahashi said: “Our work was a proof of concept that brain tissue can be used as a physical reservoir.”
This opens the door to developing machines that solve problems by thinking like humans.
Prof Takahashi, a computer engineer at the University of Tokyo, said: “These findings suggest that goal-directed behavior can be generated by sending signals to a contiguous system without any additional learning.
“The robot could not see the environment or receive other sensory information, so it relied entirely on electrical trial-and-error impulses.”
It is predicted that robots will perform most of the tasks currently performed by humans within 50 years.
Prof Takahashi said: “In our demonstration experiment, a live culture was incorporated with a vehicle robot to solve a maze task.”
He was inspired by the idea that intelligence emanates from a chaotic, or chaotic, state of coherence.
Using theory, the robot triggers a ‘reservoir’ of information that helps it understand and solve a problem.
Prof Takahashi said: “The brain of an elementary school child is unable to solve mathematical problems on the college entrance exam, possibly because brain dynamics or their ‘physical storage computer’ is not rich enough.
“Task solving ability is determined by how rich a network can generate spatio-temporal patterns.”
The Japanese team hopes that this breakthrough will lead to the development of a supercomputer that mimics the human brain.
It also offers hope of shedding fresh light on the mechanisms of the brain – and why diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s occur.
SWNS. Additional reporting by
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /