Working from their university labs in two different corners of the world, U.S. and Australian researchers have created what they call a new class of creative beings, “the semi-living artist” – a picture-drawing robot in Perth, Australia whose movements are controlled by the brain signals of cultured rat cells in Atlanta.
The robotic drawing arm operates based on the neural activity of a few thousand rat neurons placed in a special petri dish that keeps the cells alive.
Researchers are using a Multi-Electrode Array (MEA) to electrically stimulate neurons and also record the electrical activity of the neurons that are grown inside the cylinder area.
Gripping three colored markers positioned above a white canvas, the robotic drawing arm operates based on the neural activity of a few thousand rat neurons placed in a special petri dish that keeps the cells alive. The dish, a Multi-Electrode Array (MEA), is instrumented with 60 two-way electrodes for communication between the neurons and external electronics. The neural signals are recorded and sent to a computer that translates neural activity into robotic movement.
The network of brain cells, located in Professor Steve Potter’s lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and the mechanical arm, located in the lab of Guy Ben-Ary at the University of Western Australia in Perth, interact in real-time through a data exchange system via an Internet connection between the robot and the brain cells.
Larry Bowie | Georgia Tech
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