In collaboration with the Insect Navigation Group at the University of Sussex, UK, which includes Andrew Phillippides, Paul Graham and Alex Dewar, we are characterizing the parsimonious idea of navigation by scene familiarity.
We have shown simulated autonomous navigation using information present in Google images and in a cluttered indoor laboratory setting. Currently, Megan Mont an undergraduate honors student is pursuing simulated autonomous navigation in a relative featureless corridor in Richards Hall on the OU campus.
We are interested in the ability of this algorithm for use as a “real world tracker” by allowing someone to accurately recapitulate a learned path with a camera and computer in tow.
We are also exploring the ability of robots to use this algorithm for navigation with collaborators. Shown to the right is a figure highlighting the level of visual information and scene differences between a single scene (A) and a sequence of scenes (B-D) compared to all the rest of the scenes (n=1800) collected from our lab room. This figure highlights the high amount of information difference that exists in nature, as indicated by the steepness of the curves in each figure.
Electrophysiology of scorpion pectines
We are conducting electrophysiological studies of the pectines, unique chemo-tactile sensing organs on the underside of all scorpions, containing hundreds of individual sensory structures called peg sensilla. Having initially characterized the chemo-sensory capabilities of peg sensilla, the lab is interested in further answering questions related to their sensory biology, functions and the neural circuitry involved in processing information from the peg sensilla to the subesophageal ganglion.
Scorpion homing behavior
We are testing the homing behavior of the desert grassland scorpion, Paruroctonus utahensis, in our lab and in the field. We have successfully coaxed the scorpions to adopt natural burrows in the lab and faithfully return to these burrows over several days. We are currently examining the possible modes used by these animals to return home after roaming their arena during the evening.