Current projects

Navigation algorithms

We are investigating the navigation by scene familiarity idea proposed for bees and ants and have extended this to the ground-directed chemosensory organs of scorpions called pectines. 

Previously, we showed that simulated agents can navigate using information present in Google images and in a cluttered indoor laboratory and relatively featureless building corridor.  RH100visualinfoWe are also exploring the ability of robots (and humans) to use this algorithm for navigation. 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 other scenes (n=1800) collected from our lab room. This figure highlights the significant information difference available when scenes are processed through sensor matrices, such as those in the compound eyes of insects.

Electrophysiology of scorpion pectines

We are conducting electrophysiological studies of the pectines. Analogous to insect compound eyes, these unique, chemo-tactile organs contain thousands of individual sensory structures called peg sensilla (aka “pegs”). We have characterized the basic chemosensory capabilities of the pegs and are now exploring additional questions about how information is processed from the pectines to the scorpion brain.

Scorpion homing behavior

0119151631We 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 burrows in the lab and we are examining the cues used by these animals to return home after roaming their arena during the evening.