[ASC-media] Media Alert: insect warriors

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Mon Aug 16 13:27:29 EST 2004

Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences 2004 Media Alert


The War on Terror may one day be waged by insects - thousands of tiny patrolling robots mounting a ceaseless watch to protect peaceful citizens, shield defence and security forces, detect offenders or give early warning of possible attacks.

The systems insects use to fly, walk, see, smell, navigate and co-operate are already being applied by researchers to the next generation of mobile, semi-independent security devices.

Scientific leaders in this spectacular new field will gather at an international conference on Insect Sensors and Robotics in Brisbane from August 23-25.

"Anyone who has watched a fly execute a flawless landing on the rim of a teacup, or a honeybee returning to its hive with nectar from a flower kilometres away, knows insects possess sensory and navigation systems that are fast, reliable and accurate," says conference organizer Prof. Mandyam Srinivasan, of the Australian National University.

"Insects cope remarkably well with their world, despite their relatively simple sensory organs and nervous systems, and their diminutive brains. The principles they use to do this are now being used to design unconventional sensors and self-navigating robots."

Prof Srinivasan says there is a growing effort, world-wide, to develop rugged, insect-like hexapod robots for fast movement across uneven terrain, and miniature unmanned flyers for surveillance and even combat.

Examples of present and future uses include sensors for:
"	panoramic vision (inspired by insect compound eyes)
"	attitude stabilization (inspired by insect ocelli and insect halteres)
"	course control (inspired by insect-based sensing of the polarization pattern of the sky)
"	orientation (based on insect hearing and on infrared reception)
"	detecting important or dangerous smells or chemicals (based on insect antennae). 

Insect co-operative behaviour is also being used as a model for the management of swarms of tiny robots.

"This research is starting to produce important applications in the areas of defense, security, surveillance, disaster response and planetary exploration," Prof Srinivasan says.

The Insect Sensors and Robotics Conference will take place at Emanuel College, at the University of Queensland, from August 23-25, 2004. Media are welcome to attend and interview participants.

For more information and registration:

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, Australian National University,
M.Srinivasan at anu.edu.au				 	ph 0410-417-685
Professor Max Whitten, University of Queensland, 	
maxw at AOL7.com.au						ph 07 5494 3175 

August 16, 2004

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