Autonomous robots can do reconnaissance
for the military, fly in complex
patterns and even explore
other planets. But they aren't great at complex, open-ended problems. Military surveillance drones or NASA's Curiosity rover are both doing largely pre-programmed tasks.
Animals - even insects - are a lot smarter than robots, so scientists are constantly looking at ways of mimicking insect behaviors in robots. At the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex in the U.K., researchers are building a software model of a bee's brain.
Called the "Green Brain," the software model will focus on how a bee sees and smells. With that, a robotic bee could be built that actually behaves like a real bee, rather than just flying on a pre-programmed path and carrying out instructions.
"The benefit of an autonomous model is clear when you have complex tasks you want to undertake," James Marshall, a computer scientist at the University of Sheffield who is leading the three-year project, told Discovery News.