Moths Can Drive Cars Now, Just So You Know

That is a moth, driving a car. The steering wheel is a ball, and the moth walks along the ball to make it go places.

This experiment was conducted because Dr. Noriyasu Ando, writing in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, knew that there was but one thing standing between us and our flighty nemises, and decided to teach moths how to drive about:

In this study, we have employed a mobile robot driven by a genuine insect (insect-controlled robot) to evaluate the behavioural capabilities of a biological system implemented in an artificial system. We used a male silkmoth as the 'driver' and investigated its behavioural capabilities to imposed perturbations during odour tracking. When we manipulated the robot to induce the turning bias, it located the odour source by compensatory turning of the on-board moth. Shifting of the orientation paths to the odour plume boundaries and decreased orientation ability caused by covering the visual field suggested that the moth steered with bilateral olfaction and vision to overcome the bias.


Basically, what happened was that they put moths into robots and wafted some lovely smelling pheromones at the moth. When the moth liked what it smelled, it "drove" over to the scent. The moths were so good at driving, in fact, that they were able to correct for a slight turning bias artificially induced into the robot, like when you hold your steering wheel 15 degrees to the left because you can't be bothered to check your wheel alignment anymore.

I, for one, welcome our new blah blah blah.

via NPR's own Robert Krulwich

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