The insect brain as a model system for low power electronics and edge processing applications
The insect brain is a great model system for low power electronics: Insects carry out multisensory integration and are able to change the way the process information, learn, and adapt to changes in their environment with a very limited power budget. This context-dependent processing allows them to implement multiple functionalities within the same network, as well as to minimize power consumption by having context-dependent gains in their first layers of input processing. The combination of low power consumption, adaptability and online learning, and robustness makes them particularly appealing for a number of space applications, from rovers and probes to satellites, all having to deal with the progressive degradation of their capabilities in remote environments. In this work, we explore architectures inspired in the insect brain capable of context-dependent processing and learning. Starting from algorithms, we have explored three different implementations: A spiking implementation in a neuromorphic chip, a custom implementation in an FPGA, and finally hybrid analog/digital implementations based on cross-bar arrays. For the latter, we found that the development of novel resistive materials is crucial in order to enhance the energy efficiency of analog devices while maintaining an adequate footprint. Metal-oxide nanocomposite materials, fabricated using ALD with processes compatible with semiconductor processing, are promising candidates to fill in that role.