Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

01.06.2015

UC Riverside-led study used a computer model to simulate observed behavior in moths

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope of the pheromone plume, and then head upwind.


Ring Cardé, a distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside, is seen here working on an experiment involving a wind tunnel.

Credit: Carrie Rosema

Can understanding such insect behavior be useful for robotics research? Yes, according to two entomologists whose research using computer simulations shows that such insect behavior has implications for airborne robots (drones) that ply the sky searching for signature odors.

The entomologists modeled plumes' dispersal and insects' flight strategies. Their model was based in part on the observed behavior of the gypsy moth in forests and in experiments in wind tunnels. The use of computer simulations allowed testing of many conditions that could not be observed directly in the field.

The simulations suggest that optimal strategies for robotic vehicles - airborne or ground-based - programmed to contact an odor plume need not involve the detection of wind flow in setting a foraging path.

"Our simulations shows that random walks - heading randomly with respect to wind and changing direction periodically - create the most efficient paths for the initial discovery of the plume and consequently the likelihood of the moth locating its source," said Ring Cardé, a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, whose lab led the research. "Such strategies are most apt to result in contact with plumes. This conclusion matches our previous field observations of moth searching flights and also suggests that previous theoretical studies suggesting specific headings with respect to wind flow, such as a crosswind bias, are not optimal as had been predicted. Our simulations show that paths aimed downwind are least successful."

Cardé explained that in the model once the odor plume is encountered, the virtual moth navigates a course upwind to the odor's source.

"This process is well understood in flying insects such as moths, flies and mosquitoes," he said. "But first the plume must be found and the best rules for an efficient searching strategy - find it quickly with a minimal energy expenditure - had not been established."

One application of the work may be in using airborne drones to find sources of odors from pollutants. Such drones could mimic natural orientation paths of insects searching for odors.

Study results appear online in Integrative and Comparative Biology.

The researchers simulated batches of 100 virtual moths that search simultaneously and independently for an odor plume in a boundless area that replicates natural wind conditions. The model creates a meandering wind direction and the wispy structure of natural odor plumes.

###

The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research. Cardé, who is the A. M. Boyce Chair in the Department of Entomology, was joined in the research by Josep Bau at the University of Vic--Central University of Catalonia, Spain. Bau was a postdoctoral researcher in Cardé's lab.

The plume component in the simulations used by Cardé and Bau relies on a model developed by Jay Farrell, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCR.

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Media Contact

Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050

 @UCRiverside

http://www.ucr.edu 

Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>