Brain of Earthworm Recreated in Software and Embedded in a LEGO Robot

We are just the sum of our neural networks

#Robots

Tue, Nov 18th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Sporting only 302 neurons, the brain of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) was entirely mapped, duplicated with software and then hooked up to a LEGO robot. More details in the Open Worm page, whose goal is to "build a complete and accurate simulation of the first animal to be transferred to code."

The model is accurate in its connections and makes use of UDP packets to fire neurons. If two neurons have three synaptic connections then when the first neuron fires a UDP packet is sent to the second neuron with the payload "3". The neurons are addressed by IP and port number. The system uses an integrate and fire algorithm. Each neuron sums the weights and fires if it exceeds a threshold. The accumulator is zeroed if no message arrives in a 200ms window or if the neuron fires. This is similar to what happens in the real neural network, but not exact.

The software works with sensors and effectors provided by a simple LEGO robot. The sensors are sampled every 100ms. For example, the sonar sensor on the robot is wired as the worm's nose. If anything comes within 20cm of the "nose" then UDP packets are sent to the sensory neurons in the network.

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