Using the Robot Operating System for Biomimetic Research

  • Alexander Billington
  • Gabriel Walton
  • Joseph Whitbread
  • Michael ManganEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10384)


Biomimetics seeks to reveal the methods by which natural systems solve complex tasks and abstract principles for development of novel technological solutions. If these outcomes are to either explain behaviour, or be applied in commercial settings, they must be verified on robot platforms in natural environments. Yet development and testing of hypothesis in real robots remains sufficiently challenging for many in this highly cross-disciplinary research field that it is often omitted from biomimetic studies. Here we evaluate whether the Robot Operating Systems (ROS) can address this issue taking desert ant navigation as a case study. We demonstrate and discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of the current ROS implementation with regard to the specific needs of biomimetic researchers of varying technical experience, and describe the establishment of our central code repository with user guides to aid novice users.


Navigation Insect Robot Robot Operating System Path integration Visual compass 


  1. 1.
    Baddeley, B., Graham, P., Philippides, A., Husbands, P.: Holistic visual encoding of ant-like routes: navigation without waypoints. Adapti. Behav. 19(1), 3–15 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ardin, P., Mangan, M., Wystrach, A., Webb, B.: How variation in head pitch could affect image matching algorithms for ant navigation. J. Comp. Physiol. A 201(6), 585–597 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Möller, R.: A model of ant navigation based on visual prediction. J. Theor. Biol. 305, 118–130 (2012)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kodzhabashev, A., Mangan, M.: Route following without scanning. In: Wilson, S.P., Verschure, P.F.M.J., Mura, A., Prescott, T.J. (eds.) Living Machines 2015. LNCS, vol. 9222, pp. 199–210. Springer, Cham (2015). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-22979-9_20 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Collett, M., Collett, T.S.: How do insects use path integration for their navigation? Biol. Cybern. 83(3), 245–259 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Judd, S.P.D., Collett, T.S.: Multiple stored views and landmark guidance in ants. Nature 392(6677), 710–714 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Zeil, J.: Visual homing: an insect perspective. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 30.22(2), 285–293 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wystrach, A., Mangan, M., Philippides, A., Graham, P.: Snapshots in ants? New interpretations of paradigmatic experiments. J. Exp. Biol. 216(10), 1766–1770 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wehner, R.: Desert ant navigation: how miniature brains solve complex tasks. J. Comp. Physiol. A 189(8), 579–588 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Billington
    • 1
  • Gabriel Walton
    • 1
  • Joseph Whitbread
    • 1
  • Michael Mangan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Lincoln Centre for Autonomous SystemsUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

Personalised recommendations