German researchers give robo-tanks insect-like brains

Credit: RobotShop

At Berlin's Freie University, researchers have taken a little tank robot and given it an inhuman brain. Specifically, they've programmed it to think like a honey bee. The robot can now navigate it surroundings, and learn from them, as if were a bee searching for pollen.

The tank-like robot in question is the $95 DFRobotShop Rover. This Arduino-compatible robot provides a cheap and open-source platform, perfect for the Berlin-based researchers and their robot honey bee brain. A small camera connected to the robot feeds visual data to the bee-brain, which replicates the insect's sensorimotor network. According to Freie University professor Martin Paul Nowrot, the robot can take in visual sensory data and learn from it. He states that:

"Much like honeybees learn to associate certain flower colors with tasty nectar, the robot learns to approach certain colored objects and to avoid others... only a single learning trial is needed, similar to experimental observations in honeybees."

The honey bee tank-bot was developed so that professor Nowrot and his team could glean insight into how memory effects decision making and how we might implement this principle in future learning robots. We're just glad they chose the humble honey bee instead of something creeptastic and dangerous like an assassin bug.

IEEE Explore, via Freie Universität Berlin

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