In this episode Per talks with Michael Mangan from the University of Edinburgh, where he did his PhD in the Insect Robotics Group, with Professor Barbara Webb (previously interviewed by Robots Podcast), about using robotics to study and replicate insect behaviour. His current research focuses on the navigational abilities of desert ants. These ants scavenge for food over long distances despite searing surface temperatures that evaporate pheromone trails too quickly to be useful for guidance. He has recently documented the impressive individual route following behavior of desert ants in southern Spain. This has allowed the first rigorous testing of robotic and biologically plausible models of navigation in the ant world, as viewed by the ant. Mangan is currently constructing these virtual worlds for public use and they will be available from AntNav.org.
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