French scientists have created a robot that can navigate without GPS. Instead, it copies the “navigation system” desert ants using optical compass, sensitive to polarized light and UV radiation. The robot AntBot detail reported in the article of the journal Science Robotics. Press release of the development portal published EurekAlert!
Scientists have long noticed that desert ants searching for food are able to overcome a few hundred meters, and then return in a straight line back to his house by the shortest route, regardless of whether they moved to this randomly. Their outstanding navigational talent relies on two components: the ability to calculate distance traveled and steps given speed relative to the Sun and biological “sky compass”, which responds to polarized light of the sky on the ground.
Developed by researchers at the national center for scientific research of France (CNRS) and the University of AIX-Marseille (AMU) AntBot robot weighing 2.3 kg, it uses the same methods. It is equipped with six legs for better mobility (can move through difficult terrain, for example, where there is no will robots and drones) and equipped with an array of sensors whose data are processed by a single-Board computer Raspberry Pi.
As a sun compass, machine uses a pair of ultraviolet detectors, and polarizers, the rotation of which allows to measure the distribution of polarization of the incident light in the sky that allows to determine the direction of movement. In addition, the robot has the sensor of the optical flow. It consists of two rows of six hexagonal pixels. Due to the delay of appearance of image on two adjacent pixels, the sensor can calculate optical flow.
Using these devices AntBot, like desert ants, are able to explore the environment and to return independently to its base with an accuracy of one centimeter.
Since the development is a prototype, it has some limitations. The authors say that in the experiment the car has only about 14 meters, therefore, these results are difficult to compare with the efficiency of movement of real ants. Given the size, speed, and distance traveled, the robot should pass about 30 miles to compare performance with that of real ants. So before you look for it’s potential scope, it is necessary to achieve greater mobility, the authors add.
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