Send In The Roborats

Radio-controlled rodents could go places that St. Bernards can't. But that's not why they're important

In one sense, the news last week that scientists have created a "roborat" represents an ingenious technical breakthrough. Engineers have tried for years--without success--to build robots smart enough to cross even a railroad track. Now, by combining off-the-shelf technology with a creature whose maneuvering skills have been honed by millions of years of evolution, physiologists at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn have created remotely piloted rodents that navigate complex terrain at the will of controllers who are more than 500 yards away. Wearing tiny backpacks equipped with radio transmitters and miniature TV cameras, the rats...

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