- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pentagon researchers have tested a computer chip inspired by the human brain that could operate a drone.

HRL Laboratories‘ Center for Neural and Emergent Systems has tested “neuromorphic chips,” which can learn tasks without human guidance, for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), technology website Gizmodo reported.

“The first time the drone was flown into each room, the unique pattern of incoming sensor data from the walls, furniture, and other objects caused a pattern of electrical activity in the neurons that the chip had never experienced before. That triggered it to report that it was in a new space, and also caused the ways its neurons connected to one another to change, in a crude mimic of learning in a real brain,” MIT Technology Review reported.

The breakthrough for the Pentagon’s research arm comes just months after Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager for its Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program, spoke on the possibilities brain-inspired computer chips.

“Computer chip design is driven by a desire to achieve the highest performance at the lowest cost,” Mr. Pratt said on the agency’s website. “Historically, the most important cost was that of the computer chip. But Moore’s law — the exponentially decreasing cost of constructing high-transistor-count chips — now allows computer architects to borrow an idea from nature, where energy is a more important cost than complexity, and focus on designs that gain power efficiency by sparsely employing a very large number of components to minimize the movement of data.”

MIT Technology Review reported that HRL’s owners, GM and Boeing, are exploring ways to commercialize the technology. The companies believe that sensors found in cars and planes would benefit from future versions of its neuromorphic chips.

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