When we talk about worms, we consider them as weird, primitive creatures squirming around senselessly. The brain of a worm has been put into a robot and it executed perfectly.
Wait what? Ok, let’s dive deeper. A copy of the brain of a Caenorhabditis elegans has been used. It is the digital brain of a worm on a computer chip in a lego robot. The robot was basically a simulated brain navigating on its own. Sensors were fitted on the robot’s “noses” and “tails” so that on meeting a wall, they can turn around. To achieve this, scientists looked at each and every cell in the C.Elegans for decades and their working. Then other researchers developed a program that could mimic that interaction. Scientists have a complete map of every single cell in the C.Elegans and their functions. It’s the worm’s Connectome, carrying around 1000 cells and 302 neurons. By simulating a brain at a cellular level, the researchers can watch the larger aspects like movements.
They combined the connectome, some algorithms and a precise anatomical map and put them in a simulator. Once they flipped it, the robot exhibited the behaviour of a living C.Elegans. The aim was to get the neurons, interacting with the muscles of the robot which means it will not have any independent instinct, it’s not going to start looking for food, etc. Scientists are mapping this worm’s brain and creating an accurate digital simulation. With this application, we could possibly get rid of squishy living organisms in labs, relying on computer simulations instead. It can also help us in mapping and understanding our own brain because we still don’t know a lot about our brain.