Technology.am (Aug 30, 2009) — Researchers are using mould instead of silicon to make the first ever fully biological amorphous massively-parallel robot with the power of a super-computer.
Scientists at the University of the West of England have developed the amorphous non-silicon biological robot, plasmobot, using plasmodium, the vegetative stage of the slime mould Physarum polycephalum.
Professor Andy Adamatzky, who is leading the project, explains, “Most people’s idea of a computer is a piece of hardware with software designed to carry out specific tasks. This mould is a naturally occurring substance with its own embedded intelligence. It propagates and searches for sources of nutrients and when it finds such sources it branches out in a series of veins of protoplasm.”
The plasmodium is capable of solving complex computational tasks, such as the shortest path between points and other logical calculations.
The plasmobot, will sense objects, span them in the shortest and best way possible, and transport tiny objects along pre-programmed directions.
The robots will have parallel inputs and outputs, a network of sensors and the number crunching power of super computers.
The plasmobot will be controlled by spatial gradients of light, electro-magnetic fields and the characteristics of the substrate on which it is placed. It will be a fully controllable and programmable amorphous intelligent robot with an embedded massively parallel computer.