HRL to Develop Neuromorphic Chip for Intelligent Machines in DARPA’s SyNAPSE Programs

MALIBU, Calif., July 7, 2011—HRL Laboratories, LLC, announced today it will continue groundbreaking work developing electronics that simulate the cognitive capabilities of biological intelligence in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE program. Since October 2008, HRL has been leading an industry/academic team of experts in a fundamentally new approach to computing that bridges biology and electronics to develop machines that can interact with and autonomously learn from changes in their environments.

In Phase 0 of SyNAPSE, researchers developed brain-like microcircuitry in hardware and also developed very low-power neuron CMOS circuits, which became the foundation for large-scale neuromorphic circuits.

In Phase 1, the HRL team developed the world’s first functional CMOS-compatible analog memristor array.  “Successfully integrating CMOS control circuits with nanoscale memristors in an array format opens the possibility for very large-scale, high-density analog memory storage, which will be a key enabler for neuromorphic systems,” said Dr. Narayan Srinivasa, Principal Research Scientist and SyNAPSE program lead. The team developed several first-of-their-kind spiking models in software that simulate several simple behaviors ranging from orientation and color selectivity to 2-D navigation. The team also designed a large-scale neural architecture inspired by the mammalian brain to eventually demonstrate intelligent behaviors using hardware.

In Phase 2, the team will pursue developing a fully integrated neuromorphic chip. “The chip design will ensure that the hardware is scalable to support very large-scale neuromorphic architectures,” Srinivasa said. The team will also demonstrate more complex behaviors in the areas of visual perception, planning and decision making and navigation via integration of brain architecture with a virtual environment.

The SyNAPSE program is one of the research efforts at HRL’s Center for Neural and Emergent Systems.

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HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California (www.hrl.com) is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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