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Event Detail (Archived)

Biological Navigation of Complex Environments

Center for Studies in Physics and Biology Seminar Series

  • This event already took place in October 2023
  • Carson Family Auditorium (CRC)

Event Details

Special Seminar Series
Massimo Vergassola, Ph.D., professor, École Normale Supérieure, director of research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Speaker bio(s)

Living systems face the challenging task of navigating complex natural environments. Notable examples include long-distance orientation using airborne olfactory cues transported by turbulent winds, the tracking of surface-bound trails of odor cues, and flight in the lowest layers of the atmosphere. Terrestrial animals, insects, and birds have evolved navigation strategies that accomplish the above tasks with an efficiency that is often yet unmatched by human technology. Indeed, robotic applications for olfactory sniffers and unmanned aerial vehicles face similar challenges for the automated location of explosives, chemical, and toxic leaks, as well as the monitoring of biodiversity, surveillance, disaster relief, cargo relief, and agriculture. I shall review the above natural phenomena, discuss how neurobiology and physics shape and constrain navigation tasks, the role that machine learning methods can play in the field, and conclude with open issues and perspectives.

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