[ASC-media] Media release: Wasp Vision

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Mon Aug 23 21:19:16 EST 2004

Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences 2004 Media Release


The use of landmarks by wasps for finding their way back to the nest may one day be part of a system for navigating cars that 'know' where to go, or robot aircraft that navigate themselves.

A research team at the Australian National University led by Dr Alex Zelinsky has proved that a robot can navigate its way among 50 different landmarks by recognizing them individually using a panoramic camera.

"The inspiration came from biology, where wasps and bees use a practice called "turn back and look" to orient themselves as they emerge from the nest or hive. By flying to and fro, they lock in images of the nest from different angles and perspectives, so they can recognise it again," he explains.

The ANU robot is built on similar principles.  Its panoramic camera logs the surrounding landscape and its key landmarks, which are then sorted in its computer according to how reliable - clearly defined - they are as navigational aids.
The landmarks are then scaled, small to large, so the robot can recognize whether it is getting closer to or further away from them. Their location is built into in a map in its 'mind' which operates at different scales and instructs the robot whether to turn left or right at a particular mark.

The technology provides a general way for a machine to navigate an unknown landscape without using GPS or putting down beacons to steer by, says Dr Zelinsky.

"We know it works quite well and could be used as a navigational aid in cars - a car that remembers where it's been - though that is some way off. It could also be used to navigate a flying robot, using terrain landmarks."

Dr Zelinsky will describe his work on robot localization using panoramic vision and multi-scale mapping at the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Insect Sensors and Robotics. 

The Conference is being held at Emanuel College, the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, from August 23-25, 2004. 

Media are welcome to attend and interview participants.

More information 
Dr Alex Zelinsky, Australian National University, 0438 400 297
or + 61 (0)7 3871 9100
Professor M. Srinivasan, Australian National University, 0410 417 685
M.Srinivasan at anu.edu.au				 	

Conference details:

Prof. Julian Cribb, media contact, 0418 639 245

August 24, 2004

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