Are biological agents governed by similar visuo-motor mechanisms to fly?

  • Serres Julien
  • Thomas Mathieu
  • Berger Dauxère Aimie
  • Rakotomamonjy Thomas
  • Montagne Gilles
  • Ruffier Franck
  • Morice Antoine H.P.

  • Ground-following
  • Ship landing
  • Altitude control
  • Honeybees
  • Helicopter pilots


While it is still impossible for flying drones to land autonomously by sight, a bee is able to land on a moving flower and a helicopter pilot is able to land on the deck of a ship. Biological agents are thus able to perform similar navigational tasks with ease despite their differences in size, inertia or visual acuity (Berger Dauxère et al., 2021). Their prowess is essentially a result of the optic flow from which optical invariants are taken to regulate their movement or make decisions. Our studies on bees show that not only is optic flow essential for their altitude control (Serres et al., 2022), but also that they are able to detect different optical invariants to control their altitude (Berger Dauxère et al., 2022), thus bringing them closer to the perceptive abilities of pilots (Morice et al., 2021; Thomas et al., 2021, 2023). Our studies on very different biological agents: bees and pilots, thus allow us to better understand how optic flow is exploited according to the agent's movement constraints. The compilation of results between these different agents allows us not only to develop "ecological" piloting aids for pilots, but also automatic pilots to robotize aircraft.