Honeybees Speed Depends on Dorsal as Well as Lateral, Ventral and Frontal Optic FlowsReport as inadecuate

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Flying insects use the optic flow to navigate safely in unfamiliar environments, especially by adjusting their speed and their clearance from surrounding objects. It has not yet been established, however, which specific parts of the optical flow field insects use to control their speed. With a view to answering this question, freely flying honeybees were trained to fly along a specially designed tunnel including two successive tapering parts: the first part was tapered in the vertical plane and the second one, in the horizontal plane. The honeybees were found to adjust their speed on the basis of the optic flow they perceived not only in the lateral and ventral parts of their visual field, but also in the dorsal part. More specifically, the honeybees- speed varied monotonically, depending on the minimum cross-section of the tunnel, regardless of whether the narrowing occurred in the horizontal or vertical plane. The honeybees- speed decreased or increased whenever the minimum cross-section decreased or increased. In other words, the larger sum of the two opposite optic flows in the horizontal and vertical planes was kept practically constant thanks to the speed control performed by the honeybees upon encountering a narrowing of the tunnel. The previously described ALIS -AutopiLot using an Insect-based vision System- model nicely matches the present behavioral findings. The ALIS model is based on a feedback control scheme that explains how honeybees may keep their speed proportional to the minimum local cross-section of a tunnel, based solely on optic flow processing, without any need for speedometers or rangefinders. The present behavioral findings suggest how flying insects may succeed in adjusting their speed in their complex foraging environments, while at the same time adjusting their distance not only from lateral and ventral objects but also from those located in their dorsal visual field.

Author: Geoffrey Portelli, Franck Ruffier , Frédéric L. Roubieu, Nicolas Franceschini

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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