Authors: Hermann Blum, Alexander Dietmüller, Moritz Milde, Jörg Conradt, Giacomo Indiveri, Yulia Sandamirskaya
Neuromorphic electronic systems exhibit advantageous characteristics, in terms of low energy consumption and low response latency, which can be useful in robotic applications that require compact and low power embedded computing resources. However, these neuromorphic circuits still face significant limitations that make their usage challenging: these include low precision, variability of components, sensitivity to noise and temperature drifts, as well as the currently limited number of neurons and synapses that are typically emulated on a single chip. In this paper, we show how it is possible to achieve functional robot control strategies using a mixed signal analog/digital neuromorphic processor interfaced to a mobile robotic platform equipped with an event-based dynamic vision sensor. We provide a proof of concept implementation of obstacle avoidance and target acquisition using biologically plausible spiking neural networks directly emulated by the neuromorphic hardware. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working spike-based neuromorphic robotic controller in this type of hardware which illustrates the feasibility, as well as limitations, of this approach.