Flying animals have evolved computationally efficient architecture and processing principles that allow information from their sensory modalities to interact with and affect each other. For example, vision and mechanosensory information is used to stabilize gaze. Chemosensory information can modulate visual saliency. The aerodynamic instability of flying animals is combined with powerful feedback control to produce an unmatched degree of maneuverability. In order to reverse engineer the processes by which natural systems accomplish challenging flight-related missions, we must understand how sensory information is processed.
The specific objectives of NIFTI’s Architecture and Processing research thrust are to:
- Provide a control-theoretic interpretation of both the distribution (placement and orientation) and the neural encoding properties of mechanosensory arrays.
- Explore and quantify the benefits of mechanosensory-rich feedback.
- Quantify and demonstrate the advantages of force adaptive feedback in six degree-of-freedom flight systems.
- Interpret the coupling of the sensory and actuation systems.
- Explore how bilateral chemosensory input is processed in the antennal lobe and utilized to drive downstream neurons.
- Provide a framework for analysis of combinations of mechanosensory systems for flight control and the vision/chemosensory systems for plume tracking and object identification.