Home > Papers from 2012 > Route navigation without waypoints

Route navigation without waypoints

For an insect, the process of guiding oneself along a route is often assumed to be a matter of  homing from one waypoint (defined by a snapshot) to another. However, this is a deceptively tricky process requiring decisions to be made about when and where to set waypoints. In this paper, we set out to demonstrate that visual route learning and guidance can be undertaken with a much more parsimonious architecture. Here is the author summary:

“The interest in insect navigation from diverse disciplines such as psychology and engineering is to a large extent because performance is achieved with such limited brain power. Desert ants are particularly impressive navigators, able to rapidly learn long, visually guided foraging routes. Their elegant behaviours provide inspiration to biomimetic engineers and for psychologists demonstrate the minimal mechanistic requirements for complex spatial behaviours. In this spirit, we have developed a parsimonious model of route navigation that captures many of the known properties of ants routes. Our model uses a neural network trained with the visual scenes experienced along a route to assess the familiarity of any view. Subsequent route navigation involves a simple behavioural routine, in which the simulated ant scans the world and moves in the most familiar direction, as determined by the network. The algorithm exhibits both place-search and route navigation using the same mechanism. Crucially, in our model it is not necessary to specify when or what to learn, nor separate routes into sequences of waypoints; thereby providing proof of concept that route navigation can be achieved without these elements. As such, we believe it represents the only detailed and complete model of insect route guidance to date.”

Baddeley B , Graham P , Husbands P , Philippides A , 2012 A Model of Ant Route Navigation Driven by Scene Familiarity. PLoS Comput Biol8(1): e1002336.

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Categories: Papers from 2012
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