Science News

Scientists Develop a Live Remote-control Rat

Sat, 13th Jul 2002

Part of the show Phosphorus, spontaneous human combustion, marsh gas and will-o-the-wisp

Researchers at the University of New York have produced rats that can be steered by remote control. They say that rats like these could be used to clear minefields or to locate trapped earthquake victims. The rats are controlled by implanting 3 electrodes which stimulate their whiskers, and the part of the brain that signals pleasure or reward. The rats then follow signals delivered to their whiskers making them jump, turn corners and climb. Each of the rats is fitted with a radio receiver strapped to its back and is controlled by signals transmitted from a laptop computer up to 500 metres away. The rats follow the instructions because the electrode implanted in their brain's pleasure centre rewards them when they do the right thing and they quickly learn to associate following the whisker instructions with being rewarded.
Rats to replace sniffer dogs.

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