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Robotics insights through flies' eyes
Date:7/31/2009

of the brain's vision center. In each hemisphere there are only 60 nerve cells responsible for this; each reacts with particular intensity when presented with the pattern appropriate to it. For the analysis of the optical flux fields, it's important that motion information from both eyes be brought together. This happens over a direct connection of specialized neurons called VS cells. In this way, the fly gets a precise fix on its position and movement.

Prof. Borst explains the significance of this investigation: "Through our results, the network of VS cells in the fly's brain responsible for rotational movement is one of the best understood circuits in the nervous system." Yet these efforts don't end with the purely fundamental research. The discoveries of the neuroscientists in Martinsried are also particularly interesting to the engineers associated with the academic chair for guidance and control at the Technischen Universitt Mnchen (TUM), with whom Prof. Borst collaborates closely in the framework of CoTeSys.

Under the leadership of Prof. Martin Buss and Dr. Kolja Khnlenz, the TUM researchers are working to develop intelligent machines that can observe their environment through cameras, learn from what they see, and react appropriately to the current situation. Their long-range aim is to enable the creation of intelligent machines that can interact with people directly, effectively, and safely. Even in factories, the safety barriers between humans and robots should fall. To that end, simple, fast, and efficient methods for the analysis and interpretation of camera pictures are absolutely essential.

For example, the TUM researchers are developing small, flying robots whose position and movement in flight will be controlled by a computer system for visual analysis inspired by the example of the fly's brain. One mobile robot, the Autonomous City Explorer (ACE) was challenged to find its way from the institute to Marienplatz at the heart
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Contact: Patrick Regan
regan@zv.tum.de
49-892-892-2743
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert  

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