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Insect drives robot to track down smells
Date:2/5/2013

r flow across its antennae.

A 1800 millimetre wind tunnel was used in the experiments; the pheromone and robot were placed at opposite ends. Fourteen silkmoths were used in the study and all of them were able to successfully guide the robot towards the source.

The researchers also introduced a turning bias to the experiments, changing the power of one of the robot's two motors so it veered towards one side when moving. This put the silkmoth into an extraordinary situation and required it to adapt and change its behaviour.

"The best way to elicit adaptive behaviours of insects is to put them into extraordinary situations. The turning bias in our study is analogous to a situation in which we try to ride unbalanced bicycles. We need training to ride such bicycles smoothly but the silkmoth overcomes the situation with only simple and fast sensory-motor feedbacks," said Dr Ando.

It is important that the chemical sensors attached to a potential robot have a short response and processing time when tracking down odours continuously, which is why the researchers also investigated the effect of a time delay between the movement of the silkmoth and the response of the motor.

"Most chemical sensors, such as semiconductor sensors, have a slow recovery time and are not able to detect the temporal dynamics of odours as insects do. Our results will be an important indication for the selection of sensors and models when we apply the insect sensory-motor system to artificial systems," continued Dr Ando.


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Contact: Michael Bishop
michael.bishop@iop.org
01-179-301-032
Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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