Engineers have a lot to gain from studying biology. The study of biological neural systems alone provides numerous examples of computational systems that are far more complex than any man-made system and perform real-time sensory and motor tasks in a manner that humbles the most advanced artificial systems. Despite the evolutionary genesis of these systems and the vast apparent differences between species, there are common design strategies employed by biological systems that span taxa, and engineers would do well to emulate these strategies. However, biologically-inspired computational architectures, which are continuous-time and parallel in nature, do not map well onto conventional processors, which are discrete-time and serial in operation. Rather, an implementation technology that is capable of directly realizing the layered parallel structure and nonlinear elements employed by neurobiology is required for power- and space-efficient implementation. Custom neuromorphic hardware meets these criteria and yields low-power dedicated sensory systems that are small, light, and ideal for autonomous robot applications. As examples of how this technology is applied, this article describes both a low-level neuromorphic hardware emulation of an elementary visual motion detector, and a large-scale, system-level spatial motion integration system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)