Home > Papers from 2014 > The robustness of skyline guidance

The robustness of skyline guidance

We know that the navigation of insects is to a large part dependent on learnt visual information, where individuals remember egocentric scenes that encompass a large part of the natural panorama. A key source of information in natural panoramas is the skyline, the characteristic high contrast signature where terrestrial objects meet the sky. Schwarz et al. have investigated the robustness of this process by making large scale alterations to the panorama after ants had become familiar with a particular skyline. The experiments involved 2 major manipulations: (1) Using large screens to radically alter the skyline for large portions of the panorama; (2) Raising the height of the ant so that, through parallax, objects at different distances make different contributions to the skyline.  In both cases the homeward headings of trained ants were relatively robust to the changes in the skyline. Interestingly, a simple visual matching algorithm (RIDF) also predicted the approximate homeward direction in each case. This suggests that the robustness inherent in panoramic skyline matching may be a property of natural image statistics as much as the visual processing undertaken by the ant.

Schwarz, E. Julle-Daniere, L. Morin, P. Schultheiss, A. Wystrach, J. Ives and K. Cheng (2014) Desert ants (Melophorus bagoti) navigating with robustness to distortions of the natural panorama. Insectes Sociaux. 10.1007/s00040-014-0364-4

Categories: Papers from 2014
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