Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.
insect robots

Insect Robotics Group

Insect Robotics Group

Building robots to understand insect behaviour

More projects

The overall aim of our research is to understand the behavioural capabilities of insects and to model these using robots. Here are some topics we have investigated:

Ant navigation

Desert ants forage individually (without chemical trails) and can reliably return to their nest or a food source over long distances in cluttered environments. We are studying these behaviours in the ants and building computational models of the neural processing that underlies navigation.

Within the ‘Visual cues’ project, a collaboration with the University of Sussex  we are built an ant VR system and investigating the key properties of the visual scene that control navigation.

Within the recent ‘Invisible’ project we recreated the visual input of navigating ants based on a 3D reconstruction of our field site, and investigated the use of polarization and UV light to improve navigation.

Learning in Drosophila

Adult fruit-flies can learn to avoid odours that are paired with shock, and larval fruit-flies will learn to avoid or approach odours that are paired with attractive or unattractive food. We are modelling the brain circuits underlying these changes in behaviour. There are some more details here from research on this topic in the MINIMAL project.

Other arthropod behaviours

We look at a range of other athropod sensorimotor control systems:

  • Crabs
  • Dragonflies
  • Dung beetles
  • Bees
  • Hawkmoths
  • Female crickets are able to locate mates by walking or flying towards the songs produced by males. We are modelling the neural circuits underlying this behaviour and testing the models on robots (including an outdoor robot).


We are more generally interested in navigation in robots, either bioinspired or under conditions comparable to those experienced by animals, e.g., natural unstructured surroundings.

Methodological issues

We are also interested in the principles of modelling – how do different forms of models support scientific explanation?


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.