Wasp’s Eye View: High-Speed Video Reveals How The Insect Navigates Home

Posted: Feb 14 2016, 9:02am CST | by , Updated: Feb 15 2016, 10:15pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Wasp’s Eye View: High-Speed Video Reveals How the Insect Navigates Home
Courtesy of the Australian National University

Stunning footage shows the wasp's eye view of the world and explains how these insects find their way home.

Researchers have captured a stunning video which shows what exactly a wasp sees as it leaves its nest. 

Using high-speed cameras, researchers have tried to identify how insects navigate back to their homes after searching food every day. Researchers found that before a wasp leaves its home, it performs a unique maneuver. It moves around the nest in a way that it gradually gains height and distance with every spin before eventually flying away. With this, wasps remember the location of their nest and easily find their way home like so many other insects.

“Our findings tell how wonderfully autonomous, flexible and robust wasps are with their ability to know places in the world and shuttle back and forth between them,” said researcher Jochen Zeil from Australian National University in Canberra. “They share this fundamentally important skill with most animals on Earth.”

But how researchers managed to capture a video from a wasp’s perspective. First, they figured out the head movement or direction of gaze of the wasp with high-speed stereo cameras. Then, they captured the panoramic vision and build computer model so viewer can see everything from the viewpoint of a wasp. In other words, they have reconstructed the wasp’s eye view of the world and it took nearly 10 years in doing so.

Researchers have also made some predictions about what wasps learn when they fly in front of the nest in an arc and use this information to guide them back to their home and tested those predictions as well.

“They back away from the nest in a series of widening arcs, pivoting around the nest while looking back. While flying along these arcs, the insect see the environment from different directions and distances and always keep the nest in their left or right visual field. Zeil told Live Science.

Researchers suggest that wasps are quite smart in terms of navigating home. They believe these findings have implications for manufacturing autonomous flying robots.

“It will be interesting to implement the learning and homing rules we found into flying robots to test the validity and limits of our findings,” said Zeil. “We want to understand what trick the insects are using to acquire the competence of homing.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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