Latest in

Image credit:

Lego car becomes an avatar for a worm

47 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Remember the OpenWorm project, in which researchers reproduced the genome of a nematode worm digitally and made it wiggle around on a screen? If you take the "brain" of that worm and use it to power a robotic car, you end up with researcher Timothy Busbice's WormBot. He mapped the software into a Lego Mindstorms EV3 bot, then trained it to follow sound the way a nematode follows food. When he whistles to "call" the bot, it heads toward him but stops and reverses if it detects an obstacle (using the EV3's sonar) -- even though it was programmed to do none of those things.

In effect, WormBot mimics the behavior of a real nematode with wheels, with very little tuning required -- just the original genome. In fact, geneticists can make live nematodes behave differently by removing certain neurons, and Busbice reproduced the same changes in WormBot by removing the same "neurons" virtually. Unlike a living worm, though, his neural net can't form new connections, and therefore can't learn anything. But he's planning on making new versions that do just that, which may open a certain Pandora's box. If you completely reproduce an organism in digital form, is it alive? Ready or not, we may find out the answer that question soon.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
47 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

View
Disney+ public pre-orders are open, but without deep bundle discounts

Disney+ public pre-orders are open, but without deep bundle discounts

View
Facebook's Libra currency will get half its backing from the US dollar

Facebook's Libra currency will get half its backing from the US dollar

View
AMD delays 16-core Ryzen 9 CPU to November

AMD delays 16-core Ryzen 9 CPU to November

View
Erica's modular synth helps you make music with preset cards

Erica's modular synth helps you make music with preset cards

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr