Invertebrate-Inspired sensory-motor systems and autonomous, olfactory-guided exploration

Biol Bull. 2001 Apr;200(2):160-8. doi: 10.2307/1543310.


The localization of resources in a natural environment is a multifaceted problem faced by both invertebrate animals and autonomous robots. At a first approximation, locomotion through natural environments must be guided by reliable sensory information. But natural environments can be unpredictable, so from time to time, information from any one sensory modality is likely to become temporarily unreliable. Fortunately, compensating mechanisms ensure that such signals are replaced or disambiguated by information from more reliable modalities. For invertebrates and robots to rely primarily on chemical senses has advantages and pitfalls, and these are discussed. The role of turbulence, which makes tracking a single odor to its source a complex problem, is contrasted with the high-fidelity identification of stimulus quality by the invertebrate chemoreceptor and by artificial sensors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Invertebrates / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical