insect robots

Insect Robotics Group

Insect Robotics Group

Building robots to understand insect behaviour


Academic staff

barbara_portraitBarbara Webb studied Psychology at the University of Sydney and did her PhD in AI at the University of Edinburgh. She held lectureships in Nottingham and Stirling before joining  the School of Informatics in May 2003. She was promoted to Professor of Biorobotics in 2010.

Her main research interest is in perceptual systems for the control of behaviour, in particular building computational and robotic models of insect behaviour. She also has an interest in theoretical issues of methodology; in particular the problems of measurement, modelling and simulation.

Research staff


evripidis_portraitEvripidis Gkanias is a post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics, and the University of Groningen, Faculty of Science and Engineering. He is interested in bio-accurate artificial intelligence and information theory, and he currently studies the effectiveness of different forms of working memory constrained by insect neuroscience and nanotechnology hardware, aiming to build an anatomically-accurate polarised light compass circuit.

PhD Bio-inspired Robotics and Autonomous Systems, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 2018–2022
MSc Artificial Intelligence, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 2015–2016
BSc (Hons) Computer Science, School of Informatics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2008–2013


person_portrait Roman Goulard







flo_portraitFlorent Le Moël is a post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics. He is interested in insects’ spatial cognition and sensorimotor systems, and how their tiny, well-optimised brains can produce the wide repertoire of complex behaviours they display in their natural environment. He combines behavioural studies in the lab and in the field with computational modelling of the insect brain structures. He is now working on the GRASP project, aiming at characterising how ants tackle the problem of grasping various items.

PhD Neuroethology “Desert ants visual navigation: coupled behavioural and modelling approach”, Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France, 2018 – 2021
Masters Degree in Neuroscience, Behaviour and Cognition, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France, 2017

Contact: flemoel  —


mohamed_portraitMohamed Sorour is a senior research fellow at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. He is investigating the ant’s mandibles from a structural point of view, as proven to be versatile, very capable grippers, and how to make use of such knowledge in advancing regular grasping applications serving human interests.





yihe_portraitYihe Lu is a post-doctoral Research Associate at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. He is interested in understanding the mechanisms of rapid learning and memory consolidation in insect brains by implementing and testing insect-inspired artificial neural networks in navigational tasks.

Research Associate, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 2020 – 2022
Research Associate, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, 2018 – 2020

PhD Complexity Science, Centre for Complexity Science, University of Warwick, 2014 – 2018
MSc (merit) Mathematics, Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, 2013 – 2014
BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics, Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, 2011 – 2013



PhD students



James Garforth is interested in real time vision and navigation for robotics. He has previously worked on live scene reconstruction from the video data of a low-cost quadcopter and is currently investigating ways to improve robotic navigation in less structured environments such as forests. James is interested in the visual navigation capabilities of flying insects, such as the honey bee.

BSc (Hons) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh, 2007–2011
MSc (R) Robotics and Autonomous Systems, University of Edinburgh, 2014–2015



ioannis_portraitIoannis (John) Pisokas is fascinated by the organisation of brains and the situated behavioural repertoire they produce. His current focus is on modelling the Central Complex of the insect central neural system.

MSc in Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh
BEng Electronics Engineering, Technological Institute of Piraeus, Greece




le_portraitLe Zhu is interested in memory and learning mechanisms in insect brains. His current PhD project is trying to answer how the mushroom bodies in the insect brain encode visual motion as temporal memory in navigation tasks.







Robert Mitchell is a third year PhD student with an interest in multimodal cue integration in the context of insect orientation. His research primarily focuses on the Central Complex as a neural substrate for orientation cue integration, using ball-rolling dung beetles as a model species. Working in close collaboration with the Dacke Lab at Lund University, he uses a combination of insect behavioural experiments, neural modelling, and biorobotic experiments
to address his research questions.

MInf Informatics, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 2014 – 2019

Contact: r.mitchell [AT]



emili_portraitEmily Rolley-Parnell is currently in their first year of the CDT Course with the Edinburgh Center for Robotics, studying bio-inspired robotic manipulation. The biological inspiration for this project is harvester ants, and how they manipulate, pick up, and drag unknown objects; like food. From this, the aim is to apply this to robotic manipulation, and to improve the ability of robots to manipulate unknown objects with reduced computational power.

BEng (Hons) Robotics, University of Plymouth,  2015 – 2019




Anna Hadjitofi is a PhD student at the School of Informatics with a background in neuroscience and computing. As part of her PhD, she is interested in exploring the neural mechanisms underlying the honeybee waggle dance and uses behavioural experiments and neural modelling to do so.
Contact: a.hadjitofi [at]





person_portraitRana Khoury







person_portraitAruna Raman



Former Research staff

Former PhD students

(some) Former visitors

(some) Former MSc students

  • Jan Stankiewicz (2016)
  • Evripidis Gkanias (2016) – Data-driven adaptation of the evasion behaviour in fiddler crabs
  • Theodoros Stouraitis (2016) – Robotcrab: the algorithmic approach
  • Tom Appleyard (2015) – Building AntBot: a mobile-phone powered autonomous robot based on the insect brain.
  • Jordan Sewell (2015) – Tracking ants in their natural habitat using only hand-held video data.
  • Laurent Decamp (2015) – Tracking desert ants using visual cues
  • Corey Engelman (2014)
  • Shane Girish (2014)
  • Daniel Diaz-Bejerano (2014)
  • Matthias Lindor (2014)
  • Alexandros Asthenidis (2010) – Cricket-Cyborg: an insect-controlled robot
  • Ivan Cordon Medrano (2010) – Exploring Neural Models of Path Integration
  • Vladimir Ivan (2010) – Sonar-based Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping for Academic Robotic Platform

(some) Former UG students

  • Aleksander Khodshabashev (2014) – Ant Trackball and Robot.

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