It sounds like a gimmick, but actually opens up a wide field for cyborg entities, where technology and biology are combined or connected with each other. The grasshoppers’ sense of hearing is the first step. In this way, all of the sensory organs of insects can be linked to a corresponding “robot”. In theory, there are no limits. The connection can range from the sense of smell to the sense of “seeing” earth’s magnetic fields. Only the sky is the limit.
Prof. Dr. Ben Maoz elaborates: “It should be clear that biological systems use negligible energy compared to electronic systems. They are miniaturized and therefore extremely economical and efficient. For comparison: a laptop uses around 100 watts per hour, while the human brain uses around 20 watts per day. Nature is much more developed than we are, so we should use it. The principle that we demonstrated can also be applied to other senses such as smell, sight and touch. For example, some animals have amazing abilities to detect explosives or drugs; creating a robot with a biological nose could help us sustain human life and identify criminals in ways that are not possible today. Some animals know how to recognize diseases. Others can feel earthquakes. The sky is the limit.“
In the press release, Tel Aviv University (TAU) further states: “A technological and biological development unprecedented in Israel and the world has been achieved at Tel Aviv University.
For the first time, the ear of a dead grasshopper was connected to a robot, which receives the electrical signals from the ear and reacts accordingly. The result is extraordinary: if the researchers clap once, the locust’s ear hears the sound and the robot moves forward; if the researchers clap twice, the robot moves backwards.
The interdisciplinary study was led by Idan Fishel, a joint Masters student under the joint supervision of Dr. Ben M. Maoz from the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Prof. Yossi Yovel and Prof. Amir Ayali, experts from the School of Zoology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience together with -, Dr. Anton Sheinin, Idan, Yoni Amit and Neta Shavil. The results of the study were published in the renowned Sensors magazine.
The researchers explain that when the study began, they wanted to investigate how the benefits of biological systems could be incorporated into technological systems and how the senses of a dead grasshopper could be used as sensors for a robot. “We chose the sense of hearing because it is easy to compare with existing technologies, as opposed to the sense of smell, for example, where the challenge is much greater“Says Dr. Maoz. “Our task was to replace the electronic microphone of the robot with the ear of a dead insect, to use the ear’s ability to recognize the electrical signals from the environment, in this case vibrations in the air, and with the help of a special chip Convert the insect’s input into that of the robot.“
In order to cope with this unique and unconventional task, the interdisciplinary team (Maoz, Yovel and Ayali) faced a number of challenges. In the first phase, the researchers built a robot that is able to react to signals it receives from its surroundings.
Then, in a multidisciplinary collaboration, the researchers succeeded in isolating and characterizing the dead locust’s ear and keeping it alive, ie functional, long enough to successfully connect it to the robot.
In the final phase, the researchers succeeded in finding a way to record the signals received from the locust’s ear in such a way that they can be used by the robot. At the end of the process, the robot was able to “hear” the sounds and react accordingly.
“Prof. Ayali’s laboratory has a lot of experience working with grasshoppers and they have developed the skills to isolate and characterize the ear“Explains Dr. Maoz. “Prof. Yovel’s laboratory built the robot and developed the code that enables the robot to respond to electrical auditory signals. And my lab has developed a special device – ear-on-a-chip – that makes it possible to keep the ear alive throughout the experiment by supplying the organ with oxygen and nourishment while the electrical signals are coming from the ear removed from the grasshopper, amplified and transferred to the robot.“
In general, biological systems have a great advantage over technical systems – both in terms of sensitivity and energy consumption.
This initiative by researchers at Tel Aviv University opens the door to sensory integrations between robots and insects – and could eliminate the need for much more cumbersome and expensive developments in the field of robotics. ”
A technological and biological development that is unprecedented in Israel and the world has been achieved at Tel Aviv University. For the first time, the ear of a dead locust has been connected to a robot that receives the ear’s electrical signals and responds accordingly. The result is extraordinary: When the researchers clap once, the locust’s ear hears the sound and the robot moves forward; when the researchers clap twice, the robot moves backwards. The interdisciplinary study was led by Idan Fishel, a joint master student under the joint supervision of Dr. Ben M. Maoz of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Prof. Yossi Yovel and Prof. Amir Ayali, experts from the School of Zoology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience together with –, Dr. Anton Sheinin, Idan, Yoni Amit, and Neta Shavil. The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal Sensors
Source / sender (selected, adapted, final translation without guarantee by Glocalist. Adopted passages marked with quotation marks): TAU