Open source software and hardware has helped developers innovate quickly. In 2007, Google released Android as an open source mobile platform. They made it independent of hardware and we saw amazing mobile phones, integrating their software on top of android, in the market. Similarly, Arduino is an open source electronics prototyping platform. It is flexible, innovative, creative and easy-to-use software-hardware combo. Artists, designers and researchers have used open source platforms to make virtually anything without worrying about heavy budgets to continue with project.
DFRobotShop Rover is another fruit of open source platforms. Researchers of Berlin’s Freie University (Bernstein Fokus Neuronal Basis of Learning and Bernstein Center Brain) have given this tank rover a honey bee-like brain. It is a cognitive robot sensing from its environment and learning to take actions accordingly. The researchers have based this model on the nervous system of a honey-bee. As a honey bee links certain flower colors with tasty nectar, the robot associates in a similar fashion to approach certain colored objects and to avoid others.
A camera installed on the robotic vehicle is connected to a computer program. This computer program is replicated to sensor network of a honey bee. The visual data from the camera lead the neural network of robot to operate its motors and control the motor’s direction.
This project was designed to test the learning principles of brain and its decision making ability. The scientists are now planning to expand their experiment to other learning phenomena. This robot will become more powerful and autonomous. As long as it does not try to take over the world, we really appreciate the scientist’s efforts.
For Researchers: IEEE
For Hobbyists: Robotshop