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"Robotics researchers from the UK and Japan have linked up a slime mold to remotely control a six-legged robot. The mold, which is naturally light-sensitive, is able to hide the robot in dark corners, and the scientists expect to further this technology for use in smaller, autonomous units. There is also a preprint of the research paper available from the University of Southampton."
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.