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PLEN Gets A Brain With Arduino Upgrade

Researchers at Wagatsuma Lab (part of Kyutech) are breathing new life into PLEN, a miniature robot which has been MIA since its manufacturer (Systec Akazawa) went out of business.  Standing less than 23cm (9 inches) tall, PLEN isn’t your typical research robot, but at a price of around $2,600 USD it’s much cheaper than some of the other robots on the market.  By combining it with an Arduino and camera the researchers can study brain-inspired systems like neural networks and emergent behavior between multiple robots.

In one experiment, the robot searches for and approaches a target object (in this case, a stationary blue ball).  In another, a ball is flung towards it and PLEN tries to catch it with a small net.  They’ve also used multiple PLENs in a cooperative block-building exercise using Jenga game pieces.

Video:

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Although this demonstration is relatively simple, it’s still showing some degree of autonomous behavior – which PLEN isn’t normally capable of.  It should be fun to see what other activities they get the little guys up to.

[source: Wagatsuma Lab, 2, 3 (JP)]