Researchers at “Tel Aviv University” said they were able to successfully connect the ear of a dead grasshopper to a robot that receives electrical signals from it and reacts accordingly; the result is the robot moves forward when the grasshopper’s ear hears clapping once and moving backwards when they clap twice.
The results of the research were presented in “Sensors”. The researchers explain that, at the beginning of the research, they wanted to look at how the benefits of biological systems could be integrated into technological systems and how the senses of dead grasshoppers could be used as sensors for robots.
“We chose the sense of hearing because it can be easily compared to existing technologies, as opposed to the sense of smell —for example— where the challenge is much bigger”,
said Dr. Ben Maoz, co-supervisor of Idan Fissel, a graduate student who led the research.
“Our goal was to replace the robot’s electronic microphone with the ear of a dead insect, to use the ear’s ability to detect electrical signals from the environment —in this case vibrations in the air— and, using a special chip, to convert the insect’s “input” into that of the robot.”
At first the researchers built a robot capable of responding to signals from the environment, and then isolated and kept the dead grasshopper’s ear functionally alive, so they could connect it to the robot; in the final phase, they were able to find a way to capture signals received from the grasshopper’s ear in a way that could be used by the robot; in the end, the robot could “hear” the sounds and react accordingly.
“My lab has developed a special “Ear-on-a-Chip” device that allows the ear to remain alive during the experiment —by providing oxygen and food to the organ— while allowing electrical signals to be received from the grasshopper’s ear, strengthened and transmitted to the robot,“
said Maoz, adding that biological systems have a great advantage over technology, both in terms of sensitivity and energy consumption.
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