Optical flow sensing and the inverse perception problem for flying bats
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Citation (published version)Zhaodan Kong, Kayhan Oezcimder, Nathan Fuller, Alison Greco, Diane Theriault, Zheng Wu, Thomas Kunz, Margrit Betke, John Baillieul. 2013. "Optical Flow Sensing and the Inverse Perception Problem for Flying Bats." 2013 IEEE 52ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON DECISION AND CONTROL (CDC), pp. 1608 - 1615 (8).
The movements of birds, bats, and other flying species are governed by complex sensorimotor systems that allow the animals to react to stationary environmental features as well as to wind disturbances, other animals in nearby airspace, and a wide variety of unexpected challenges. The paper and talk will describe research that analyzes the three-dimensional trajectories of bats flying in a habitat in Texas. The trajectories are computed with stereoscopic methods using data from synchronous thermal videos that were recorded with high temporal and spatial resolution from three viewpoints. Following our previously reported work, we examine the possibility that bat trajectories in this habitat are governed by optical flow sensing that interpolates periodic distance measurements from echolocation. Using an idealized geometry of bat eyes, we introduce the concept of time-to-transit, and recall some research that suggests that this quantity is computed by the animals' visual cortex. Several steering control laws based on time-to-transit are proposed for an idealized flight model, and it is shown that these can be used to replicate the observed flight of what we identify as typical bats. Although the vision-based motion control laws we propose and the protocols for switching between them are quite simple, some of the trajectories that have been synthesized are qualitatively bat-like. Examination of the control protocols that generate these trajectories suggests that bat motions are governed both by their reactions to a subset of key feature points as well by their memories of where these feature points are located.