Feb
17
2008

Just what I wanted! A robotic rat!

Roborat 1.0: Future models, I expect, will have teeth. Lots of teeth.
Roborat 1.0: Future models, I expect, will have teeth. Lots of teeth.Courtesy The Weizmann Institute of Science
The way that scientists seem to be able to read my mind, or at least predict the things I’ll want, is frightening to me sometimes. Frightening in the best way, of course, like how a birthday party is frightening.

See, just the other day I was lying on the floor of my room, thinking about rats. I was thinking about how great rats are, and wishing that there was some way to increase the ratty-ness of the world. Because, for all the great things about rats, they still have their drawbacks. Their size, for one—rats can get pretty big, but, in my opinion, not nearly big enough. Also, rats die. Could there possibly be a way, I wondered, there on the floor, to create a rat that can’t die? Maybe a whole race of undying rats? Dreams, I thought, just dreams…

Not so. Scientists have done their thing (science) and created a robotic “whiskered” rat (and remember, robots can’t die, not really). And don’t change your pants just yet, not until you hear this—the robo-rat is also four times the size of a real rat! Where dreams end and reality begins is no longer obvious to me!

The “whiskers” of the robot are intended to allow it to identify objects through touch (an angle largely ignored in robotics). Using this powerful sense, researchers say, “the whiskered robot will be able to quickly locate, identify and capture moving objects.” Wonderful! All that sentence needs is for a “kill” to be inserted, and we’ll have perfection.

Oddly enough, the creation of a giant, blind, robotic rat is not the ultimate goal of this research. By building a robot to that mimics an animal’s senses, scientists hope to learn more about the way the brain processes and interprets data gathered by these senses. The step-by-step construction of this “brain like system” allows scientists to find the most efficient and accurate methods of interpreting sense data, and the result is likely very similar to the brain’s own processes. The results of a project like this one might eventually be applied to the construction of machines, for instance, that could be used “in rescue missions, as well as search missions under conditions of restricted visibility.” Or, ideally, to fill the nights of the future with huge, metal rats.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

this is pretty neat, and scary at the same time becuase
the rat could become a disaster chaos in the ending to everyone.

posted on Mon, 02/18/2008 - 11:42am
koallainfestation37's picture
koallainfestation37 says:

why would you want a giant robotic rat?
but i suppose that it could be useful in some way or another

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:32am
robin nelson's picture
robin nelson says:

Thars crazy i never though about rats like that i never wonder anything about them. thats nasty i dont like them, you thinkink about makeing robatic rats thats not whats hot thats crazy

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:38am
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

could the robot brain reconize the owner image and voice? I heard japan are making something like that

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:41am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I wouldn't be surprised--Japan always seems to have the best robots.
I think voice recognition technology is pretty well established. I don't know about recognizing an owner's face. The idea with this technology, though, is for the robot to understand its environment through feeling, instead of through sight. Imagine haveing a huge pet robot rat the had to climb up and feel your face to recognize you.
I can't wait for the future!

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 6:59pm
Candice's picture
Candice says:

IF WE DONT LIKE THE CURRENT RATS WHY WOULD WE WANT ROBOT ONES. HELLO!!! WE KILL THE REAL ONES, SO WHAT MAKES SCIENTIST THINK WE'LL LIKE THE ROBOT ONES. I DON'T THINK THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE FOLKS! WHO REALLY LIKES RATS BESIDES SCIENTIST!!!???

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:44am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Other rats. Other rats like rats too.

Also, this person. And this person.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 7:02pm
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

Great opinion Candice
Have a great day

Sponsered in part by
IM AWESOME Productions

posted on Thu, 02/21/2008 - 11:08am
shanee's picture
shanee says:

Ok now i think the world has gon mad ...i mean come on a robot rat...who in their right mind would put more rats on the earth! Think about it.. but hey i guess we can appreciate the new right!

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:46am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

Why are people making robot rats when their are more important things to do than make robotic rats? No offense to you guys who likes em.

posted on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 1:43pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Name a single thing more important than making robo rats. I doubt very much that it can be done.

posted on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 11:48pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Rat whiskers are all the rage!!!

Here's an article about how a new ultra high speed video system has shown that rats move their whiskers about ten times faster than scientists previously thought, further suggesting the high complexity of whisker perception. How about that?

posted on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 5:43pm

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