Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Awarded Grant To Create ’Artificial Rat Whisker’

07.03.2003


Scientists at the University of the West of England and the University of Sheffield have won funding to create a robotic system based on the whiskers of a rat.


The system would mimic the biological rat whisker and would provide an entirely new and groundbreaking modality for mobile robots working in confined spaces.

Known as ‘Whiskerbot’ the project will bring together experts in robotics from UWE with experts from Sheffield University who specialise in computer modelling of the brains of mammals.

The project aims to replicate many aspects of the way a rat’s whiskers work – it uses its whiskers to sense the location, closeness, size and texture of nearby objects and surfaces. The rat also sweeps its whiskers back and forth across surfaces and objects to gather information about form and texture. In fact, it could be claimed that whiskers are as important to rats as vision is to humans.



Dr Chris Melhuish who is leading the project for UWE says, “The ‘Whiskerbot’ will be an entirely new design unlike any of the ‘whiskers’ used on robots at the moment and it will have more of the features of the biological rat whisker. The rat’s whisker is like a long fingernail – it has no sensors in it but the whiskers allow the rat to sense its world and derive texture maps of its environment. It is important for the rat in finding its way around since it spends a lot of time in the dark.”

Dr Melhuish says the aim of developing this technology will be to provide mobile robots with a set of ‘whiskers’ like a rat’s which will have the ability to sense their environment: “A key application of this technology will be to provide mobile robots with a sensing ability which will enable them to work in confined spaces such as in narrow pipes or at the site of disasters like earthquakes where dust and smoke may mean poor visibility. These locations are often difficult and dangerous for people. In such environments a robot which could ‘feel its way’ using a rat-like whisker would be extremely useful.”

Robot autonomy is a key area of robot research at the internationally acclaimed Intelligent Autonomous Systems Lab (IAS Lab) at UWE. Chris continues, “The rat’s use of its whiskers may be more energy efficient than vision – and this could be an important factor in designing robots which are autonomous in terms of their energy needs.”

The IAS team will work closely with colleagues at Sheffield University who are experts on how the brain of the rat works. Dr Tony Prescott from the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group (ABRG) at the University of Sheffield says they are looking forward to collaborating on this exciting new project with UWE, “The rats whisker was chosen for the research project because the rat is one of the most studied creatures of the animal kingdom which means there is a great deal of scientific data available. It is crucial for the success of this project that we understand how the rat processes the data it receives through its whiskers, and this means we need an intimate understanding of how the rat’s brain works. This is the area in which the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group at Sheffield University excels and this will be complemented by the expertise of the robotocists at UWE. These two areas will complement each other in developing the artificial rat whisker.”

Jane Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/Default.asp?item=320

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Fraunhofer researchers develop measuring system for ZF factory in Saarbrücken
21.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

nachricht New manufacturing process for SiC power devices opens market to more competition
14.09.2017 | North Carolina State University

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gecko adhesion technology moves closer to industrial uses

13.12.2017 | Information Technology

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>