NIFTI’s research is focused on reverse engineering the following challenging flight-related abilities:

  • Locating an object, such as a prey item, a mate, or a food source by using multimodal sensory information processing.
  • Navigating through complex environments, such as flight in cluttered environments and flight involving collisions, aerodynamics disturbances, or other animals.
  • Navigating in sensory deprived environments with minimal information such as ultralow light or minimal mechanosensory or chemosensory information.

To reverse engineer these flight-related abilities, NIFTI’s research is organized in three basic science research thrusts:

  • Thrust 1: Sensor ModalitiesHow is sensory information encoded and processed by flying animals?  An emphasis is placed on mechanosensory and chemosensory systems as they relate and interact with visual motion detection.
  • Thrust 2: Architecture and ProcessingHow does the neural and mechanical architecture of flying animals influence how their sensory modalities interact with behavioral components of the flight-related abilities described above?  What architectures support multimodal processing?  Examples would include combined vision and mechanoreception in gaze stabilization, or chemosensory modulation of visual saliency.
  • Thrust 3: Decision Making: How do animals use sensory information and the physiological, mechanical, and behavioral contexts in which they are operating to make decisions in flight control and flight planning?  Exploring biological decision-making also guides the development of tools and technologies that investigate how little information is necessary to guide decisions and controls in flying systems.

Use the above links to learn more about each of NIFTI’s three research thrusts.