bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, February 09, 2004

Honeybees and RATs on Mars

Honeybees, the most studied insect on earth, are making their mark on Mars. NASA has sent built two robot geologists — Spirit and Opportunity — built by Honeybee Robotics to explore the surface of the red planet. Mind you, a RAT has gone with them, although the RAT is a nothing fiercer than a Rock Abrasion Tool.

The name of Honeybee Robotics, a New York-based company, is probably a reference to the inspiration that insect visual systems are giving to robotics.

Other companies such as Centeye are also improving robotic vision through biological influences:

“Relying on circuits and algorithms based upon insect visual systems, Barrows’ [CEO of Centeye] imaging chips fundamentally mimic an intelligent retina by partially ‘digesting’ the image before sending the data to a backend processor. Conventional vision systems are, by contrast, heavy data crunchers, needing to process megabytes of dumb data using power-hungry processors before extracting relevant information.”
Wired gives a useful overview of bug inspirations.


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