A honeybee's navigational toolkit on Board a Bio-inspired Micro Flying Robot

  • Vanhoutte Erik
  • Ruffier Franck
  • Serres Julien

  • Optic flow sensor
  • Sense and avoid
  • VLSI retina
  • Micro air vehicle
  • Bionics
  • Bio-inspired robotics
  • Biorobotics


In this paper, a 395-gram micro flying robot equipped with an insect-inspired visual system is presented. The robot's visual system was designed to make it avoid both ground and lateral obstacles, using optic flow-based regulation principles. The quadrotor is an open-hardware X4-MaG drone with an active gimbal system based on a pair of serial servo motors, which stabilizes 8 retinas dedicated to optic flow measurements in the 25 °/s to 1000 °/s range, each of which comprises 12 auto-adaptive pixels working in a 7-decade lighting range. The X4-MaG drone is tested in front of a slanted wall, its quasi-panoramic bio-inspired eye on board is able to estimate the angle of incidence in the 0° to 50° range with an error of less than 2.5° when flying. These experimental results are a first step towards a fully autonomous micro quadrotor requiring no magnetometers, which will be able in the near future to " sense and avoid " obstacles in GPS-denied environments.