Engineered and Bioinspired Magnetic Navigation

Grant Huang, Brian K. Taylor, Kevin M. Brink, Mikel M. Miller

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Magnetic field navigation is a research area that lies at the intersection of engineering, and biology. Several animals use the Earth’s magnetic field in concert with other sensor modes to accomplish both short and long distance navigation. However, despite extensive research, animal magnetic reception remains poorly understood. Similarly, Earth’s magnetic field offers a signal that engineered systems can leverage to navigate in environments where man-made positioning systems such as global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs) are either unavailable or unreliable. Exploring magnetic navigation from both biological and engineering viewpoints can enable a higher level of biological understanding through the use of engineering tools and methods, and improved engineered solutions that are able to leverage appropriate information and concepts from existing biological solutions, a paradigm that has been seen in a variety of areas. This study implements both engineered and biologically inspired relative navigation strategies in a mobile robot. The engineered strategy is based on greedily moving towards a magnetic goal, while the bioinspired strategy is based on the notion of using two magnetic properties as a form of bicoordinate map in a manner similar to coordinate search. Both strategies appear to be able to move towards and find a magnetic goal from a variety of initial starting locations and orientations. The study provides a testbed and framework to compare and contrast engineered and bioinspired magnetic navigation strategies. In particular, it enables the use of engineering tools to aid in neuroethology studies that add to the biological knowledge base, while simultaneously using these insights to expand and enhance the engineer’s toolkit.
Published in: Proceedings of the ION 2017 Pacific PNT Meeting
May 1 - 4, 2017
Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pages: 897 - 907
Cite this article: Huang, Grant, Taylor, Brian K., Brink, Kevin M., Miller, Mikel M., "Engineered and Bioinspired Magnetic Navigation," Proceedings of the ION 2017 Pacific PNT Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 2017, pp. 897-907.
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