Neurala Issued Fundamental Patent For Simulating The Human Brain On Graphic Processing Units

Industry: Technology

Patent Covers Core Technology That Is Critical For The Development Of Smarter Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Cambridge, MA (PRUnderground) February 11th, 2014

The U.S. Patent Office today issued to Neurala, Inc. a patent that covers brain-based computational models, often called Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) running on graphic processing units (GPU).  The invention is seen as an important foundation for real-time artificial intelligence and robotics applications.

Humans outperform computers in many natural tasks, including vision and language processing, because the brain efficiently processes many inputs, learns, and recognizes patterns.  Computers, however, process only one input at a time on each CPU core and then make sequential calculations.  Therefore, even fast CPUs cannot match the power of the human brain.

Neurala’s breakthrough, which dates back to 2006, was to see that GPUs, which were originally designed for computer games and 3D graphics, could be used to process multiple inputs simultaneously and to simulate neural networks.  Cutting-edge artificial intelligence and ANNs are dramatically accelerated on GPUs, which can handle many more instructions per clock cycle than a computer’s central processing unit (CPU).  As a result, ANNs that can perform interesting tasks can be written to run in real-time using a low-cost graphic processing card found in many consumer products.

“Our invention makes it possible for robots and other devices to use artificial intelligence in situations in which execution time is critical.  It will be fundamental for our effort to build brains for robots that interact with the world and with humans in real-time,” said Massimiliano Versace, CEO and co-founder of Neurala.

The patent, which is Neurala’s first, is number 8,648,867 and is entitled “Graphic Processor Based Accelerator System and Method”.  It covers hardware and software “controllers” that handle most of the primitive operations needed to set up and control ANNs on a GPU.

“One way to think about the significance of GPU processing for robots is to consider how quickly you may like to move 600 people from Boston to London.  If all you had was a single fast fighter jet, you could get a single person to London very quickly.  But, it would take 600 sequential trips to move all of them and process them through customs.  On the other hand, it you had a Boeing 747-8, the trip would be slower, but all 600 people would arrive and be processed faster,” said Roger Matus, vice-president of products and markets for Neurala. “Computers operate much in the same way as the fighter jet in this example.  It is fast, but cannot do many things.  Biological brains, however, operate more like GPUs.  They use slower processors called neurons, but are massively parallel to do more at once.”


About Neurala, Inc.

Neurala, Inc. ( creates software that makes robots, drones, toys, consumer electonics, self-driving cars and smart devices (ioT) more autonomous, engaging and useful. The patent-pending Neurala Intelligence Engine (NIE) is based on the way the human brain works using passive sensors (e.g., cameras like eyes and microphones like ears), make intelligent decisions and act. NIE is based on technology that Neurala developed for NASA for planetary exploration and for the U.S. Air Force Research Labs. The company offers a Software Developers Kit (SDK) for companies wishing to integrate intelligence into their products. Neurala also offers two consumer apps: Neurala Selfie Dronie powers autonomous flight in drones to take stunning videos without human operation or specialized hardware. Neurala Roboscope turns a Parrot Jumping MiniDrone into a self-driving robot that can autonomously and playfully \”attack\” objects in the real world. The company was founded in 2006 and is a graduate of TechStars Boston 2013. It received a seed round of investment of nearly $1-million, led by Tim Draper and Robolution Capital. Follow Neurala on Twitter at @Neurala, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at

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Roger Matus

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