Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Auto-pilots need a birds-eye view: Pigeons can inform navigation technology design

Date:
July 1, 2011
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
New research on how birds can fly so quickly and accurately through dense forests may lead to new developments in robotics and auto-pilots. Scientists trained pigeons to fly through an artificial forest with a tiny camera attached to their heads, literally giving a birds-eye view.

This image shows a pigeon, fitted with a camera, about to fly through the artificial forest that can be seen in the background.
Credit: Talia Moore

New research on how birds can fly so quickly and accurately through dense forests may lead to new developments in robotics and auto-pilots.

Scientists from Harvard University trained pigeons to fly through an artificial forest with a tiny camera attached to their heads, literally giving a birds-eye view. "Attaching the camera to the bird as well as filming them from either side means we can reconstruct both what the bird sees and how it moves," says Dr. Huai-Ti Lin, a lead researcher for this work who has special insight into flying as he is a remote control airplane pilot himself.

The methods pigeons use to navigate through difficult environments could be used as a model for auto-pilot technology. Pigeons, with >300 degree panoramic vision, are well suited to this task because this wrap-round vision allows them to assess obstacles on either side. They can also stabilise their vision and switch rapidly between views using what is called a "head saccade," a small rapid movement of the head.

This research is being presented at the Society for Experimental Biology annual conference in Glasgow.

The researchers also showed that the birds have other skills that would be important for auto-piloted machines, for example they tend to choose the straightest routes. "This is a very efficient way of getting through the forest, because the birds have to do less turns and therefore use less energy but also because they reach the other side quicker," says Dr Lin. "Another interesting finding is that pigeons seems to exit the forest heading in exactly the same direction as when they entered, in spite of all the twist and turns they made in the forest."

When using a robot or an unmanned air-craft it would be invaluable to simply provide it with the coordinates of the destination without having to give it detailed information of all the obstacles it might meet on the way. "If we could develop the technology to follow the same methods as birds we could let the robot get on with it without giving it any more input," says Dr. Lin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "Auto-pilots need a birds-eye view: Pigeons can inform navigation technology design." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150457.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2011, July 1). Auto-pilots need a birds-eye view: Pigeons can inform navigation technology design. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150457.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Auto-pilots need a birds-eye view: Pigeons can inform navigation technology design." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150457.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) The Johnson family lost their battle with the Chesterfield County, Virginia Planning Commission to allow Tucker, their pet pig, to stay in their home, but refuse to let the board keep Tucker away. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins