Laser Scanning Rat’s Whiskers

  1. Rats can use their whiskers to navigate with their eyes closed.
  2. The rat’s whiskers were scanned to create a 3D computer simulation.
  3. Someday robots may be covered with whiskers.

In the category of “different” – rat’s noses were laser scanned to create a realistic 3D model of their whiskers. Why? It turns out rats have a finely developed ability to use their whiskers to navigate, so finely developed in fact they can move about with their eyes closed.

The research project, detailed in a recent American Association for the Advancement of Science – AAAS article by Sara Reardon used the 3D model of the rat’s whiskers to better understand the sense of touch. Turns out humans are the only mammals without whiskers and our touch probe – the hand, is extremely complicated to analyze.

Sara notes, “A new computer model of how our twitchy-nosed friends move their whiskers could lead to a better understanding of how the brain processes the sense of touch and even speed the development of whisker-covered robots”.

Excellent article.

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