Nature’s Navigators – An Overview of Biologically-Inspired Navigation

Mikel M. Miller, Adam J. Rutkowski, and Kenneth J. Lohmann

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: An exciting area of research is biologically-inspired navigation, or "bio-nav." Diverse animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, fish, etc.) have unusual sensors and behavioral strategies that allow them to navigate reliably through their environments. The spatial scales over which different animals navigate vary widely, ranging from small patches of desert occupied by ant colonies to migratory routes spanning ocean basins, as is the case for sea turtles. Similarly, different species must solve very different tasks and monitor different elements of the environment... For many navigational tasks that humans confront and for almost any aspect of the natural world we might wish to detect, nature has an animal that does something similar. The papers contained in this journal describe how animals navigate using diverse natural environmental cues, including physical landmarks, Earth’s magnetic field, odors, wind, heat, the sun, optical flow, inertial forces, and hydrostatic pressure. In most cases, animals combine information from several of these cues to accomplish navigation feats over a variety of distances and environments; thus, the biological world is filled with examples of sensor fusion. As highlighted in the papers in this special issue of the journal, the precise combination of cues and navigational strategies varies greatly among different animals, depending on the habitat and what is needed for survival.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 55, Number 2
Pages: 99 - 100
Cite this article: Miller, Mikel M., Rutkowski, Adam J., Lohmann, Kenneth J., "Nature’s Navigators – An Overview of Biologically-Inspired Navigation", NAVIGATION: Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 55, No. 2, Summer 2008, pp. 99-100.
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