Controlling a Mobile Robot with a Biological Brain

  • Kevin Warwick University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Dimitris Xydas University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Slawomir J. Nasuto University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Victor M. Becerra University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Mark W. Hammond University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Julia H. Downes University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Simon Marshall University of Reading, Berkshire
  • Benjamin J. Whalley University of Reading, Berkshire


The intelligent controlling mechanism of a typical mobile robot is usually a computer system. Some recent research is ongoing in which biological neurons are being cultured and trained to act as the brain of an interactive real world robotthereby either completely replacing, or operating in a cooperative fashion with, a computer system. Studying such hybrid systems can provide distinct insights into the operation of biological neural structures, and therefore, such research has immediate medical implications as well as enormous potential in robotics. The main aim of the research is to assess the computational and learning capacity of dissociated cultured neuronal networks. A hybrid system incorporating closed-loop control of a mobile robot by a dissociated culture of neurons has been created. The system is flexible and allows for closed-loop operation, either with hardware robot or its software simulation. The paper provides an overview of the problem area, gives an idea of the breadth of present ongoing research, establises a new system architecture and, as an example, reports on the results of conducted experiments with real-life robots.

Defence Science Journal, 2010, 60(1), pp.5-14, DOI:

Author Biographies

Kevin Warwick, University of Reading, Berkshire
Prof K. Warwick received first degree from Aston University, followed by a PhD and research post at Imperial College, London. Kevin has been awarded DSc both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and received Honorary Doctorates from Aston
University and Coventry University in 2008. He is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England. Kevin's most recent research involves the invention of an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson Disease tremors.
Dimitris Xydas, University of Reading, Berkshire

Simon Marshall, University of Reading, Berkshire
School of Chemistry, Food Biosciences and Pharmacy, University of Reading, UK
Benjamin J. Whalley, University of Reading, Berkshire
School of Chemistry, Food Biosciences and Pharmacy, University of Reading, UK
How to Cite
Warwick, K., Xydas, D., Nasuto, S., Becerra, V., Hammond, M., Downes, J., Marshall, S., & Whalley, B. (2010). Controlling a Mobile Robot with a Biological Brain. Defence Science Journal, 60(1), 5-14.