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No AccessInvertebrate Sensory Information Processing: Implications for Biologically Inspired Autonomous System

Invertebrate-Inspired Sensory-Motor Systems and Autonomous, Olfactory-Guided Exploration

Boston University Marine Program, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02453

E-mail: [email protected]

This paper was originally presented at a workshop titled Invertebrate Sensory Information Processing: Implications for Biologically Inspired Autonomous Systems. The workshop, which was held at the J. Erik Jonsson Center for the National Academy of Sciences, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, from 15–17 April 2000, was sponsored by the Center for Advanced Studies in the Space Life Sciences at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Cooperative Agreement NCC 2-896.

The localization of resources in a natural environment is a multifaceted problem faced by both invertebrate animals and autonomous robots. At a first approximation, locomotion through natural environments must be guided by reliable sensory information. But natural environments can be unpredictable, so from time to time, information from any one sensory modality is likely to become temporarily unreliable. Fortunately, compensating mechanisms ensure that such signals are replaced or disambiguated by information from more reliable modalities. For invertebrates and robots to rely primarily on chemical senses has advantages and pitfalls, and these are discussed. The role of turbulence, which makes tracking a single odor to its source a complex problem, is contrasted with the high-fidelity identification of stimulus quality by the invertebrate chemoreceptor and by artificial sensors.