Head-Up Display Augments Bionic Turtle’s Reality

There’s a harsh truth underlying all robotic research: compared to evolution, we suck at making things move. Nature has a couple billion years of practice making things that can slide, hop, fly, swim and run, so why not leverage those platforms? That’s the idea behind this turtle with a navigation robot strapped to its back.

This reminds us somewhat of an alternative universe sci-fi story by S.M. Stirling called The Sky People.  In the story, Venus is teeming with dinosaurs that Terran colonists use as beasts of burden with brain implants that stimulate pleasure centers to control them. While the team led by [Phill Seung-Lee] at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology isn’t likely to get as much work from the red-eared slider turtle as the colonists in the story got from their bionic dinosaurs, there’s still plenty to learn from a setup like this. Using what amounts to a head-up display for the turtle in the form of a strip of LEDs, along with a food dispenser for positive reinforcement, the bionic terrapin is trained to associate food with the flashing LEDs. The LEDs are then used as cues as the turtle navigates between waypoints in a tank. Sadly, the full article is behind a paywall, but the video below gives you a taste of the gripping action.

Looking for something between amphibian and fictional dinosaurs to play mind games with? Why not make your best friend bionic?

7 thoughts on “Head-Up Display Augments Bionic Turtle’s Reality

  1. > compared to evolution, we suck at making things move.

    Actually, the opposite is correct. We are quite good at putting into practical use what we come up with in our minds. Evolution has to do that ONCE to even be in competition with us. So far, to my knowledge, evolution sucks at “making things move”.

    > Nature has a couple billion years of practice making things

    No, she’s not. Nature isn’t practising anything. Nature keeps “playing around”, and only those who are – for whatever reason – better adopted to her (cruel) ruels, survice and thrive.

    As for the topic of the article … isn’t anyone who trains his/her pet to follow commands doing the same, maybe on some smaller scale? Or is the idea here to – in the long run – have weaponized killer turtles sneak through borders and explode beneath enemies’ couches?

  2. ” compared to evolution, we suck at making things move”, ehmmm… how long is evolution working on this concept of “moving”? And how long does mankind really tried to do the same? I do not think that this is a fair comparison, do you?

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