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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Rescue rats will sniff out buried victims

Slashdot links this article on cyborg rats used in search and rescue. I've been told that one big problem is giving a guarantee that the rats don't begin eating the people (dead or alive) they find. I suppose that the stimulation of pleasure centers of the brain would dominate other such carnal urges.
Each rat has electrodes implanted in three areas of the brain which process odour signals, plan movements and experience rewards.

The scientists stimulated the reward centre to generate feelings of pleasure when the rodent’s nose picked up a whiff of human. In this way, the rats were trained to seek out human odours.
All of this is desirable for a few reasons. The computer-rat brain interface research is also very applicable to computer-human brain interface. I just went to this very interesting talk on the subject. Further, very dexterous robots with high level perception are few and far between. A rat is amazingly mobile and also has an excellent perception suite. Of course, along the way, projects like this could save lives, and that is always wonderful.


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