Volume 1 (2010) Issue 1 Pages 2-10
This paper deals with the control problems involved in insects' and robots' visually guided piloting. Explicit control schemes are presented which may explain how insects navigate by relying on optic flow cues, without requiring any distance or speed measurements. The concept of the optic flow regulator, a feedback control system based on OF sensors, is presented. We tested our control schemes in simulation, and implemented them on-board two types of miniature aerial robots, a helicopter and a hovercraft. Their electronic OF sensors were inspired by the results of our microelectrode studies on motion sensitive neurons in the housefly's compound eye. The control schemes described do without any conventional avionic sensors like rangefinders or speedometers, and therefore show great potential for safe autonomous control of aerial, underwater and space vehicles in unchartered environments.