Brain Cell Computer Chip Could Control Drones, Scale Up to Steer Cars

This chip made of brain cells can power a drone.

Neuroscientist and entrepreneur Oshirenoya Agabi believes that the future of intelligent computing will be powered by biology. That’s why he founded Koniku Inc., the world’s first neurocomputing company. Now, his company has reached a technological milestone by creating a computer chip powered by neurons.

Other computer researchers have experimented with computer chips activated by cell proteins in the past, but Agabi believes brains cells are a much more powerful alternative. His chip was designed to be dynamic enough to power a drone — and it only contains 64 neurons. Agabi predicts that 500 neurons would provide enough to power a driverless car, 100,000 neurons could fuel a robot with multiple sensory inputs, and one million neurons could be the backbone of a computer that can think for itself.

To create the chip, Agabi and his team used stem cell technology to create neurons. Each neuron had to be placed in a special shell that controlled its temperature and pH levels. Then each shell was connected to an electrode, which controlled the information being sent to the neurons.

“We coat the electrodes with DNA and enriched protein which encourages the neurons to form an artificial tight junction with the electrodes,” Agabi told Singularity Hub. “That way, we can read the information from the neurons. We can write the information into neurons using the same electrodes or using other means, [such as] light or chemical.”

While this chip is a prototype, Agabi eventually wants it to power drones that can detect and interpret smells. While this may seem fantastical, Agabi sees this as achievable and envisions a world where drones can smell out bombs and use smell to survey farmlands, refineries, and manufacturing plants to health and safety measures.

This mission to manipulate neurons technologically is a reminder that the human brain is the most efficient, impressive computer of all. While 500 chip encrypted neurons could possibly power a driverless car, there’s 100,000 neurons in each grain of sand-sized matter in your brain.

If you’re interested in learning more about Agabi’s vision for a biological technology, check out his February presentation at the Indie Bio demo day here:

Media via Giphy