Locust clue to road safety plans

Locust clue to road safety plans

A computer model based on the brain of a locust could be utilised by car manufacturers to save the lives of thousands of drivers each year.

Locusts have an in-built early warning system which prevents them from colliding with each other when flying in huge swarms at high speed.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln have mapped that anti-collision mechanism and transplanted it into the navigation systems of mobile robots.

That system could serve as a blueprint for ultra-reliable detection sensors for cars, which could prevent thousands of accidents and dramatically reduce the number of car insurance claims made by motorists.

Professor Shigang Yue, from Lincoln's school of computer science, and Dr Claire Rind, from Newcastle University's institute for neuroscience, were inspired by the insects' unique way of processing neural signals.

Their research was undertaken in partnership with the University of Hamburg in Germany and Tsinhua University and Xi'an Jiaotong University in China.

Professor Yue said: "This research demonstrates that modelling biologically plausible, artificial visual neural systems can provide new solutions for computer vision in dynamic environments.

"It could be used to enable vehicles to understand what is happening on the road ahead and take swifter action."

Copyright Press Association 2013