IT doesn't crash

April 14, 2000

British and Swiss scientists have developed a robot with an electronic visual system based on that of a locust, enabling it to behave like a swarming insect and avoid collisions with objects.

Claire Rind, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, showed locusts clips of Star Wars to study how their eyes and nerve cells reacted to fast-moving objects and backgrounds.

She hopes the robot's neural network program, which mimics part of the locust's brain, will be the basis of a collision-avoidance system for cars. Insects manage to dodge objects despite poor vision and basic brains.

Dr Rind worked in collaboration with Mark Blanchard and Paul Verschure, of the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Details: www.ncl.ac.uk/neurobiology/

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