Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Robot rat to lead the way in touch technology

12.02.2008
Researchers from the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are participating in a newly funded EU project "BIOTACT.

The gaol of the project is to develop machines with sophisticated touch technology, like robots that can use their whiskers like a rat to explore their surroundings. The 7.3 million Euro project will bring together nine research groups from seven countries to develop new technologies inspired by the use of touch in the animal kingdom.

These could have a number of possible applications in modern day society from search and rescue robots that could pick their way through rubble and debris to mine-clearing machines to planetary rovers in space.

While vision supplies information about distant objects, touch is invaluable in sensing the nearby environment. The Norwegian rat and the Etruscan shrew, for example, use their whiskers to make sense of their environment. The mammals sweep their whiskers back and forth at high speeds in a controlled manner, allowing them to use touch signals alone to recognize familiar items, determine the shape and surface of objects, and track and capture prey. However, in designing intelligent, life-like machines, the use of touch has been largely overlooked, until now.

The research team at the BCCN is led by Professor Michael Brecht of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His research group will focus on the Etruscan shrew, the smallest mammal. This animal hunts prey of almost the same size as itself. Thus, guided by vibrissal touch this animal places breath-takingly fast and precise attacks on its insect prey. "The sensory-motor perfomance of this animal is astonishing. Using novel microscopy techniques will offer unique insights about the mammalian brain function," Brecht says.

The Europe-wide research effort is coordinated by Professor Tony Prescott of the University of Sheffield. Using their understanding of the animal kingdom, the team will develop two machines endowed with similar sensing capabilities, including a whiskered robot that can seek-out, identify and track fast-moving target objects. Professor Prescott said: "Overall, our project will bring about a step-change in the understanding of active touch sensing and in the use of whisker-like sensors in intelligent machines. By learning from nature and developing technologies that do use this physical sense, our researchers will be able to enhance the capabilities of the machines of the future."

Notes to editors:
The BIOTACT (BIOmimetic Technology for vibrissal ACtive Touch) project will develop novel biomimetic computational methods and technologies for active touch sensing.
Project Partners include: Tony Prescott, Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK (Co-ordinator); Ehud Ahissar, Weizmann Institute, Israel; Wulfram Gerstner, EPFL, Switzerland; Mathew Diamond, International School of Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy; Tony Pipe/Chris Melhuish, Bristol Robotics Lab, UK; Michael Brecht, Berlin Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience, Germany; David Golomb, Ben Gurion University, Israel; Patrick Pirim, Brain Vision Systems, Paris, France; Mitra Hartmann, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA.
For more information about BIOTACT, please visit www.biotact.org
The project is funded by the EU "Information Systems Technologies" theme, under the "Future Emerging Technologies" (FET) programme. For more information, visit www.cordis.europa.eu/ist/fet/
For further information, please contact:
Prof. Michael Brecht
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Philippstr. 13, House 6
10115 Berlin
Germany
Email: michael.brecht (at) bccn-berlin.de
Phone: +49 30 2093 6770
Fax: +49 30 2093 6771

Katrin Weigmann | idw
Further information:
http://www.biotact.de
http://www.bccn-berlin.de
http://www.activetouch.de

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches
25.05.2018 | Universität Ulm

nachricht Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>