Home > Papers from 2012 > Visual odometry in 3d

Visual odometry in 3d

For many flying insects navigation isn’t really a 3d problem. For instance, honeybees fly at a roughly constant height over the terrain and then forage mainly for flowers near ground level. However some bees, such as the stingless bee Melipona panamica, forage at a variety of heights in the forest canopy, thus it would be beneficial if these bees were able to measure distances accurately in the vertical as well as horizontal. Eckles et al have adapted a classic patterned tunnel experimental design, to investigate whether stingless bees can use optic flow signals to measure vertical distances. Bees were trained to find food at a certain height in a vertical channel (with striped walls). Bees searched at the correct height when tested in a fresh tunnel, and their search height was modulated (as predicted by an optic flow based visual odometer) by changing the width of the tunnel. Now, it would be fascinating for us to find out if these bees are actually performing path integration in true 3d or ‘simply’ using their vertical odometer to learn the length of route segments.

M. A. Eckles, D. W. Roubik, and J. C. Nieh (2012) A stingless bee can use visual odometry to estimate both height and distance. J Exp Biol 2012;215 3155-3160

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