Life-like adaptive behaviour is so far an illusive goal in robot control. A capability to act successfully in a complex, ambiguous, and harsh environment would vastly increase the application domain of robotic devices. Established methods for robot control run up against a complexity barrier, yet living organisms amply demonstrate that this barrier is not a fundamental limitation. To gain an understanding of how the nimble behaviour of organisms can b e duplicated in made-for-purpose devices we are exploring the use of biological cells in robot control. This paper describes an experimental setup that interfaces an amoeboid plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum with an omnidirectional hexapod robot to realise an interaction loop between environment and plasticity in control. Through this bio-electronic hybrid architecture the continuous negotiation process between local intracellular reconﬁguration on the micro-physical scale and global behaviour of the cell in a macroscale environment can be studied in a device setting.
|Abstract of "Robot Control: From Silicon Circuitry to Cells"|
(I found this, of course, through the good offices of the Exploding Aardvark, who has a link to a news coverage of the research)