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How the praying mantis could now shape robotic vision

How the praying mantis could now shape robotic vision

Thursday 29 March 2018

For years, AI scientists have struggled with giving robots sight, encountering numerous difficulties in building a light-weight system which mimics the complex way in which humans judge distance. A new discovery about the way the praying mantis sees its prey could be about to change things for ever.

The praying mantis is the only insect known to possess stereo vision, and while studying the legendary predator, scientists at Newcastle University made the discovery that the insect perceives distance in a far simpler way than humans.

By tracking the mantis’s eyes, the researchers realised that it is only interested in moving prey and has therefore evolved to only “see” movement. The human brain, by contrast, merges all the stereo views it receives, still and moving. As a result the mantis is able to process the information it perceives in a far smaller brain.

The study drew the conclusion that the mantis’ way of seeing is a much better model for robotics. As researcher Dr Ghaith Tarawneh puts it: “Since insect brains are so tiny, their form of stereo vision can’t require much computer processing.”

It would seem the future for robot brains could be, at least in part, insect-like.


  1. The Telegraph:
    Future of robotics vision is a praying mantis (wearing tiny red glasses).

  2. Current biology:
    A Novel Form of Stereo Vision in the Praying Mantis.

  3. The Atlantic:
    What Scientists Learned From Putting 3-D Glasses on Praying Mantises.


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