ARO Young Investigator – Insect-Inspired Visual Flight Control for Aerial Microsystems

Sponsor: ARO (Randy Zachary)
Investigators: PI: Sean Humbert (UMD)

Over the past 5 years there has been significant research investment and progress in actuation and fabrication technology for micro-scale systems. Sensors, processing, and feedback control architectures, on the other hand, are dramatically behind the curve at these scales. This is particularly true for flying microrobotics, where the challenges due to the high bandwidth dynamics and stringent size, weight, and power constraints render traditional technology and paradigms unusable. Novel sensors and sensory processing architectures that enable stable flight control, obstacle avoidance, and detection of external stimuli will need to be developed if autonomous microsystems are to ultimately be realized.

Insect nervous systems, which function under similar constraints, offer a promising alternative. In these small organisms, spatially distributed arrays of simple sensors that collect localized measurements are pooled and processed in parallel by sensory interneurons that converge onto relatively small numbers of motor neurons responsible for controlling locomotion. This simple, yet elegant architecture is employed by numerous species to achieve a wide range of behavioral tasks. The objective of the proposed research is to formalize these wide-field processing principles of the insect visuomotor system for an intended audience of microsystem roboticists, engineers, and designers. The outcome will enable substantial improvement in the capabilities of autonomous engineered systems for situational awareness in urban and confined environments.

  • Humbert JS and Hyslop AM, “Bio-Inspired Visuomotor Convergence,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 121-130, 2010, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2009.2033330.
  • Conroy JK, Gremillion G, Raganathan BN, Humbert JS, “Implementation of Wide-Field Integration of Optic Flow for Autonomous Quadrotor Navigation,” Autonomous Robots, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp.189-198, 2009, DOI: 10.1007/s10514-009-9140-0.
  • Hyslop AM and Humbert JS, “Autonomous Navigation in 3-D Urban Environments Using Wide-Field Integration of Optic Flow,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.147-159, 2010, DOI: 10.2514/1.43778.
  • Hyslop AM, Krapp HG and Humbert JS, “Control Theoretic Interpretation of Directional Motion Preferences in Optic Flow Processing Interneurons,” Biological Cybernetics, Vol. 103, pp. 339-352, 2010, DOI: 10.1007/s00422-010-0404-8.
  • Conroy JK and Humbert JS, “Wide-Field Integration for Corridor Navigation of a Micro Helicopter,” IROS Workshop on Visual Guidance Systems for Small Autonomous Aerial Vehicles, Nice, France, September 2008.
  • Hyslop AM and Humbert JS, “Wide-Field Integration Methods for Autonomous Navigation in 3-D Environments,” AIAA Conference on Guidance, Navigation, and Control, Paper AIAA 2008-7252, Honolulu, HI, 2008.
  • Humbert JS and Frye MA, “Extracting Behaviorally Relevant Retinal Image Motion Cues via Wide-Field Integration,” American Control Conference, pp. 2724-2729, Minneapolis, MN, 2006. DOI: 10.1109/ACC.2006.1656635.
  • Humbert JS, Murray RM, and Dickinson MH, “A Control-Oriented Analysis of Bio-Inspired Visuomotor Convergence,” 44th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, pp. 245-250, Seville, Spain, 2005.
  • Humbert JS, Murray RM, and Dickinson MH, “Pitch-Altitude Control and Terrain Following Based on Bio-Inspired Visuomotor Convergence,” AIAA Conference on Guidance, Navigation and Control, AIAA 2005-6280, San Francisco, CA, 2005. Winner of best conference paper award.
  • Humbert JS, Murray RM, and Dickinson MH, “Sensorimotor Convergence in Visual Navigation and Flight Control Systems,” 16TH IFAC World Congress, Prague, 2005.

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