3D Navigation With An Insect-Inspired Autopilot

  • Portelli Geoffrey
  • Serres Julien
  • Ruffier Franck
  • Franceschini Nicolas

  • Vision
  • Motor Control
  • Robotics and Control
  • Simulation


Using computer-simulation experiments, we developed a vision-based autopilot that enables a ‘simulated bee' to travel along a tunnel by controlling both its speed and its clearance from the right wall, the left wall, the ground, and the ceiling. The flying agent can translate along three directions (surge, sway, and heave): the agent is therefore fully actuated. The visuo-motor control system, called ALIS (AutopiLot using an Insect based vision System), is a dual OF regulator consisting of two interdependent feedback loops, each of which has its own OF set-point. The experiments show that the simulated bee navigates safely along a straight tunnel, while reacting sensibly to the major OF perturbation caused by the presence of a tapered tunnel. The visual system is minimalistic (only eight pixels) and it suffices to control the clearance from the four walls and the forward speed jointly, without the need to measure any speeds and distances. The OF sensors and the simple visuo-motor control system developed here are suitable for use on MAVs with avionic payloads as small as a few grams. Besides, the ALIS autopilot accounts remarkably for the quantitative results of ethological experiments performed on honeybees flying freely in straight or tapered corridors.