HRL Laboratories is testing an unmanned aircraft with a new processor that essentially acts like a brain, learning and acting on its own dubbed neuromorphic chip, according to Gizmodo reports.
The research is funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. According to the MIT Technology Review, the first time the tiny test craft was flown into a new 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 caused the way its synthetic neurons connect to one another to change as the chip learned the layout of the room, to be remembered next time it enters.
Narayan Srinivasa, who leads HRL’s Center for Neural and Emergent Systems, was quoted as saying by MIT Technology Review, “This shows it is possible to do learning literally on the fly, while under very strict size, weight, and power constraints.”
Aerovironment built the test drone, which is six inches square and weighs 93 grams. The chip accounts for just 18 grams of that weight, and used 50 milliwatts of power.