Bee brains could teach robots to make split-second decisions
The expression “busy as a bee” is undoubtedly true for the honey bee’s brain. They must balance effort as well as risk and reward. They must beware of predators and accurately determine which flowers will most likely provide food to their hives when flying. Efficiency and speed are crucial to their survival, and scientists are looking at their brains to figure out how they do this. A study published on June 27 by eLife examines how thousands of generations of evolutionary progress have crafted honey bee brains that make rapid decisions and decrease the risk of harm.
[Related: What buzzing bees’ brains could tell us about human evolution. ]
“Decision-making is at the heart of cognitive. The process involves evaluating of possible outcomes. life in animals is full of choices,” co-author and comparative neurobiologist from the Australian institution of Macquarie University Andrew Barron declared in an announcement. “A honey bee’s brain is much smaller than a sesame seeds. Yet she is able to make decisions much faster and more precise than we. A robot that is programmed to perform the job of a honeybee would require the support of supercomputers.”
Barron states that today’s autonomous robots operate with the help of remote computing. Barron also notes that drones must communicate with a type or data center. He is examining how bees’ brains function and can help design more efficient robots that can explore more freely.
For the study, the team taught 20 bees to recognize five colors of “flower disks.” The blue flowers were always sugar syrups, whereas the green flowers included tonic water bitter to bees. The other colors could contain glucose. The team then took each Bee to a temporary garden, where the flowers were surrounded by distilled water. Each Bee was recorded, and the group watched for more than forty hours, watching the insects’ routes and calculating how long it took them to decide.
“If the bees were confident that a flower would have food, then they quickly decided to land on it, taking an average of 0.6 seconds,” Hadi MaBouDi, co-author and computational neuroethologist at the University of Sheffield in England, said in a statement. “If they were confident that a flower would not have food, they made a decision just as quickly.”
If the bees weren’t sure they were not sure, they took significantly longer time-1.4 seconds in total-and. The duration reflected the possibility that the flower had food.
The team then created an electronic model to mimic the decision-making process used by bees. They discovered that the structure appeared like the physical structure of the Bee’s brain. The researchers found that bees’ brains can make sophisticated autonomous decisions using only a few neural circuits.
[Related: A robotic being inspired by centipedes will have no difficulty finding its way. ]
“Now that we know that bees make these smart choices, we are investigating how they are extremely fast in acquiring and analyzing data. We believe that bees are using the movements of their wings to improve their vision system, making them more adept at identifying the best flowers,” co-author and computational and theoretical biology professor from the University of Sheffield James Marshall. The University of Sheffield James Marshall stated in a statement.
Marshall is also the co-founder of Opteran Opteran, which reverse-engineered insect brain algorithms that allow machines to operate independently. The founder believes that nature will inspire the AI industry in the near future since thousands of years of brain evolution have led to incredibly efficient brains that need only a little power.