Rat Propulsion Via Brain-machine Interface

Our little red-eyed friend can drive this vehicle around with his mind. WITH HIS MIND, MAN!

This is the product of research into adaptive technologies. The process is pretty invasive, implanting neural electrodes in the motor cortex of the brain. The hope is that some day this will be a safe and reliable prospect for returning mobility to paralysis victims.

We found it interesting that the vehicle was trained to react to the rats’ movements. They were allowed to move around a test space under their own power while brain signals were monitored by the electrodes. Video tracking was used to correlate their movements with those signals, and that data is used to command the motors for what the Japanese researchers are calling RatCar.

We can see the possibilities opening up for a mechanized cockroach v. RatCar free-for-all. Something of a battlebots with a live tilt. But we kid, this is actually quite creepy.

[via Neatorama and PopSci]

78 thoughts on “Rat Propulsion Via Brain-machine Interface

  1. Hey borgar – You don’t read too hard or well.

    Quote: “The process is pretty invasive, implanting neural electrodes in the motor cortex of the brain.”

    Or do you know better?

  2. @DaveC
    “I hate that animals get treated as if
    they were just animated property for people to
    abuse as they please.”

    maybe you would enjoy this site:

    but, i disagree with you on removing this article. instead a realization needs to be made by the site operators that this type of experimentation holds no merit. “not a hack” as they say around here.

  3. Is there a problem here? Are some of you waking up today and realising that the majority of scientific findings were at the cost of animal experimentation (rightly or wrongly). If you want to start condemning them NOW – AFTER enjoying the fruits of the previous tests – leave the room. Unless you live in a hole with perfect health, you’ve already experienced something first hand which was a result of animal testing.

    “If an experiment leads to a conclusion, whatever it may be, it has merit. The realisation that something is futile is as important as a major breakthrough.” – me, 2010.

  4. Thanks Bacchus and yeahok – good points.

    There have been some fantastic hacks on this site, which have made me realise how brief life is – lots of ideas, but very little time.

    Nature is necessarily cruel sometimes, but also
    kind at other times. Technology allows us to go the extra mile, but the direction should be chosen with very great care…

    (In my case, it’s home – a dude wants to lock the office now – bye-bye.)

  5. @Xboxguru
    i don’t like to have battles of wit with the unarmed… i restrain myself out of compassion – you know, that thing i’ve been talking about/advocating with my comments here.

    but ive got to tell you, your quote really made me smile, because it reminded me of something funny i read. by your logic, this experiment would have merit:


    in fact, anything merely defined as an experiment would automatically have merit by your logic.

    i think merit has to be calculated with ethics considered – call me crazy, i know.

  6. @yeahok – even considering the article posted is a complete spoof, the fact remains that you’re living in a world where many technologies, procedures and life-giving drugs were borne out of animal testing, bizarre experiments and pure accident.

    If we as a race were to confine ourselves to just what we thought was ethical, we would still be in mud huts. Ethics are a variable factor in any equation, which differ from person/place/situation. Once you start to be influenced by variables, your experiment is worthless as it’s compromised by what’s perceived as right rather than what can be accomplished.

    For the record, I don’t like having battles of wit as it’s extremely hard to find an opponent these days. It’s time to catch up with reality and put the placard down.

  7. Could this experiment have been done a little better? Probably. It’s still being done for the right reasons.

    Personally, I can’t wait to be able to jack into cyberspace. I consider this to be one (very) small step in that direction.

    Rats are vermin. Period. They should be exploited to their fullest potential for any actual benefit they can provide to us.

    To all of you decrying the fate of the poor little vermin, STFU and go eat a veggie burger.

  8. So what are you saying? That because we’d kill rats in different situations, it’s ok to experiment on them? You mean like POWs in WW2?

    I don’t have a problem with this sort of research, just that this specific instance isn’t new and that its results are of dubious quality at best.

  9. @jim
    “So what are you saying? That because we’d kill rats in different situations, it’s ok to experiment on them? You mean like POWs in WW2?”

    this is an amazing troll

  10. nessacary evil.

    in order to get breakthrough discoveries in this field, people must be allowed to do weird and unpleasant things to rats.

    apart from the fact that this is quite disgusting, i’m all for it, i can’t wait till they make an arduino brain implant and we get a load of stories about controling pets via arduino.

    not that i’d be doing it myself, i hate animals.

  11. @Xboxguru –
    “Once you start to be influenced by variables, your experiment is worthless”

    I almost spit coffee out my nose at this one. You, ah, you don’t actually do science for a living, do you? If you can remove all those variables, you’re not doing science anymore. It’s just engineering.

    and this:
    “For the record, I don’t like having battles of wit as it’s extremely hard to find an opponent these days”

    Spending all your time looking in the mirror for an opponent will do that to you. :)

    “Kevin Warwick, the cyborg from England”
    I feel as though I’m in a monty python skit.

    Warwick is another cheap stunt researcher. He stuck an rfid chip – the kind already having been put in animals for several years – under his skin, making headlines around the world with the help of a publicity agentand a naive public.

    Sadly, warwick’s work is merely derivative of a gentleman who had beat him to the punch by a few years by implanting the entire mechanism of a musical christmas greeting card under the skin of his penis, along with a number of ball bearings of various diameters. There was once a video of this floating around the net.

    Both gentleman sought to allow instant recognition of themselves by implanting electronic devices that allowed them to be uniquely identified. Warwick took the lesser path, I think.

    On the other hand, the guy with the penis that played jingle bells during coitus eventually discovered that batteries go dead, long after the scars had healed.

    Perhaps to compensate, Warwick then stuck a tiny array of multiplexed sensors into his arm, eventually managing to control a robot with the help of others. The fact that identical experiments had been done in the 1960s (using far cruder technology to better effect) was ignored.

    He’s a bright guy, but he’s not a cyborg. Unless media hype counts as his cybernetic super enhancement.

    There’s another guy, Steve Mann, who made a lot of noise when the TSA made him “rip out” his own attempts at “enhancement” when he tried to fly somewhere. Mann is at least useful to the rest of us, having contributed some technology to the world.

    These guys are not scientists. They are engineers. Publicity seeking engineers who do a lot of talking and handwaving with fancy props, but who contribute very little actual science.

    If you want to see an engineer who has really helped the world, look at the university of Alberta and Kelley James. Here’s a guy who did something amazing, didn’t take all the credit for it and made the world a better place.

    Or my fellow frenchmen, Djourno and Eyries, who in the late 1950’s – ALMOST SIXTY YEARS AGO – did all the work needed to provide the first real applied analysis of auditory neural stimulation to create what became the first cochlear implants.

    and now for something completely different!

  12. I normally love this site. I find this really effing repulsive. Sorry, but it is animal cruelty and I’d rather see this kinda of stuff happen to a serial killer waiting life out in the pen than a rat who was just born to live in a box to get cut open for science. I love science but this is offensive. Get this the hell off of here.

  13. nah better idea, kill everything on the planet in the advancement and pleasure of humans. wow, all we need is 10 billion and a desert. its not like anything else in the world is important. oh yeah, h1n1 was human caused, superbugs are human caused and im thinking digging into something with a heart beat for the sake of convinience is pretty bad. research points to computer modelling to be better than animal research but it is a bit more expensive. and if you noticed i did say use the human garbage in prison. if not here im sure a few foreign governments will accept payment to do so.

  14. did you get any vaccine in your childhood? have you or your family members ever been to hospital got infusion? do you refuse any medication when your sick son needs it? would you let your loved ones die, just because you sorry for that poor rat raised in the lab?

    any nos? then you support animal trials.

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