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Bioinspired engineering of exploration systems for NASA and DoD

Thakoor, Sarita and Chahl, Javaan and Srinivasan, M. V. and Young, L. and Werblin, Frank and Hine, Butler and Zornetzer, Steven (2002) Bioinspired engineering of exploration systems for NASA and DoD. Artificial Life, 8 (4). pp. 357-369. ISSN 1064-5462.

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A new approach called bioinspired engineering of exploration systems (BEES) and its value for solving pressing NASA and DoD needs are described. Insects (for example honeybees and dragonflies) cope remarkably well with their world, despite possessing a brain containing less than 0.01% as many neurons as the human brain. Although most insects have immobile eyes with fixed focus optics and lack stereo vision, they use a number of ingenious, computationally simple strategies for perceiving their world in three dimensions and navigating successfully within it. We are distilling selected insect-inspired strategies to obtain novel solutions for navigation, hazard avoidance, altitude hold, stable flight, terrain following, and gentle deployment of payload. Such functionality provides potential solutions for future autonomous robotic space and planetary explorers. A BEES approach to developing lightweight low-power autonomous flight systems should be useful for flight control of such biomorphic flyers for both NASA and DoD needs. Recent biological studies of mammalian retinas confirm that representations of multiple features of the visual world are systematically parsed and processed in parallel. Features are mapped to a stack of cellular strata within the retina. Each of these representations can be efficiently modeled in semiconductor cellular nonlinear network (CNN) chips. We describe recent breakthroughs in exploring the feasibility of the unique blending of insect strategies of navigation with mammalian visual search, pattern recognition, and image understanding into hybrid biomorphic flyers for future planetary and terrestrial applications. We describe a few future mission scenarios for Mars exploration, uniquely enabled by these newly developed biomorphic flyers.

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Additional Information:© 2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Posted Online March 11, 2006. The research described in this publication was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, the Australian National University, and the University of California, Berkeley, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and was sponsored by the NASA Intelligent Systems Program, the DARPA CBBS program contract N66001-00-C-8025, and the Defence Science and Technology Organization of Australia. Sarita Thakoor would like to acknowledge useful discussions with Steve Townes and Norman Lay at JPL and with Dean Soccol, Matt Garratt, and Gert Stange at the Australian National University.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)N66001-00-C-8025
Defence Science and Technology Organization of AustraliaUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Bioinspired; navigation; autonomous flight systems; autonomous recognition; Mars exploration
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:THAal02
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13673
Deposited On:06 Jul 2009 23:06
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 00:43

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