Category Archives: NEWS

Nikolas Andreakos Presents a Poster in the 9th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 2020

 

Nikolas Andreakos is a PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln who is working on developing computational models of associative memory formation and recognition in the mammalian hippocampus.

Recently, Nikolas attended the 9th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 2020. This year’s conference which was scheduled to take place between 28th and 30th July 2020 in Freiburg, Germany, but due to the current situation around Covid-19, it was moved online.9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

ABOUT LIVING MACHINES 2020

The development of future real-world technologies will depend strongly on our understanding and harnessing of the principles underlying living systems and the flow of communication signals between living and artificial systems.

Biomimetics is the development of novel technologies through the distillation of principles from the study of biological systems. The investigation of biomimetic systems can serve two complementary goals. First, a suitably designed and configured biomimetic artefact can be used to test theories about the natural system of interest. Second, biomimetic technologies can provide useful, elegant and efficient solutions to unsolved challenges in science and engineering.

Biohybrid systems are formed by combining at least one biological component—an existing living system—and at least one artificial, newly-engineered component. By passing information in one or both directions, such a system forms a new hybrid bio-artificial entity. The theme of the conference also encompasses biomimetic methods for manufacture, repair and recycling inspired by natural processes such as reproduction, digestion, morphogenesis andmetamorphosis.

The following are some examples of “Living Machines” as featured at past conferences:

  • Biomimetic robots and their component technologies (sensors, actuators, processors) that can intelligently interact with their environments.
  • Biomimetic computers neuromimetic emulations of the physiological basis for intelligent behaviour.
  • Active biomimetic materials and structures that self-organise and self-repair or show other bio-inspired functions.
  • Nature inspired designs and manufacturing processes.
  • Biohybrid brain-machine interfaces and neural implants.
  • Artificial organs and body-parts including sensory organ-chip hybrids and intelligent prostheses.
  • Organism-level biohybrids such as robot-animal or robot-human systems.

Nikolas presented his research Improving recall in an associative neural network model of the hippocampus.

Accepted papers 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

Living Machines 2020 presentation

Living Machines 2020 presentation

Abstract

The mammalian hippocampus is involved in auto-association and hetero-association of declarative memories. We employed a bio-inspired neural model of hippocampal CA1 region to systematically evaluate its mean recall quality against different number of stored patterns, overlaps and active cells per pattern. Model consisted of excitatory (pyramidal cells) and four types of inhibitory cells: axo-axonic, basket, bistratified, and oriens lacunosum-moleculare cells. Cells were simplified compartmental models with complex ion channel dynamics. Cells’ firing was timed to a theta oscillation paced by two distinct neuronal populations exhibiting highly regular bursting activity, one tightly coupled to the trough and the other to the peak of theta. During recall excitatory input to network excitatory cells provided context and timing information for retrieval of previously stored memory patterns. Dendritic inhibition acted as a non-specific global threshold machine that removed spurious activity during recall. Simulations showed recall quality improved when the network’s memory capacity increased as the number of active cells per pattern decreased. Furthermore, increased firing rate of a presynaptic inhibitory threshold machine inhibiting a network of postsynaptic excitatory cells has a better success at removing spurious activity at the network level and improving recall quality than increased synaptic efficacy of the same threshold machine on the same network of excitatory cells, while keeping its firing rate fixed.

Nikolas Andreakos attending the 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020
Nikolas Andreakos attending the 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

Xuelong Sun finishes 10 month secondment at Guangzhou University

Xuelong Sun enrolled as a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln in 2016. In 2017-18 he visited Tsinghua University as part of the STEP2DYNA project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. During this secondment, Xuelong revisited the classical ring attractor model and demonstrated its application of bio-plausible optimal cue integration of directional cues.

Xuelong recently completed a 10 month secondment at the Guangzhou University in China as part of the ULTRACEPT project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. He has been involved in Work Package 1 and 3.

When asked about his experiences Xuelong said:

Solving problems by taking inspirations from animals (so called bio-inspired solution) is one of the core ideas of our group-computational intelligence lab (CIL). As for me, insects are my best friend because of their amazing ability to use navigation and efficient collaboration to solve complex problems.

During this ten-month secondment, I continued my previous modelling work of insect navigation systems and have made great progress, by not only reproducing the main observed behavioural data of real insects, but also mapping specific computation to corresponding brain regions of the insects. We are making great contributions to the insect navigation community.

The paper presenting this work has been submited to eLife during the secondment (Dec 2019) and then has been accepted and published- A decentralised neural model explaining optimal integration of navigational strategies in insects. I also attended the online conference- Neuronmatch Conference in March 2020 to present this work.

As part of my researching interests cooperating with fellow ULTRACEPT researcher Tian Liu, we developed a platform called ColCOSՓ for social insects and swarm robotic researching. This platform consists of three parts, the arena (LED screen), the monitoring camera and the micro-robot. Swarm robotic and social insects related experimental scenarios can be easily and flexibly conducted in this platform. Fellow ULTRACEPT researcher Dr Cheng Hu and I presented the platform physically at Guangdong (Foshan) Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference.

Another interesting experiment undertaken during my secondment is that we investigated the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic. The real-world vehicle critical conditions always consist of severe crashes which are impractical to be replicated for experimenting, so we implemented the experiment on ColCOSՓ.

I co-authored a paper presenting the interesting results of this experiments and submitted it to Frontiers in Robotics and AI during the secondment in February 2020.

Besides from this, I also attended the Convention on Exchange of Overseas Talent (OCS2020) and interviewed by the Guangzhou TV. In the interview I said that as a PhD that obtained the degree from abroad, what kind of career I want and what kind of support should be provided by the government.

I had a really great experience with my colleagues during the secondment.

Thank you for the support from ULTRACEPT for my secondment that benefits me a lot.

 

 

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

Fang Lei is a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln who is currently on secondment at Guangzhou University, China as part of the ULTRACEPT project. Recently, Fang attended the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI) 2020. Originally due to take place in Glasgow between 19th and 24th July 2020, the conference was moved online due to Covid-19.

The WCCI is the world’s largest technical event on computational intelligence and features three conferences from the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS), the 2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2020), the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems (FUZZ-IEEE 2020), and the 2020 IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation (IEEE CEC 2020).

IEEE WCCI 2020 covered topics in the field of neural networks, from biological networks to artificial computation and was attended by more than 2,350 record attendees from over 75 countries. The event schedule included:

  • Public lecture by Yoshua Bengio on the topic of artificial neural networks and deep learning 2.0
  • 4 Plenary Speeches by world-renowned scholars: Barbara Hammer, Kay Chen Tan, Carlos Coello Coello, and Jim Bezdek
  • 15 Keynotes by top-notch researchers, 5 per Conference
  • 4 cutting-edge Panel sessions
  • 36 Tutorials
  • 10 Workshops
  • 170 Special Sessions including 61 for IJCNN, 42 For IEEE CEC, 37 For FUZZ-IEEE, and 30 Cross-Disciplinary sessions
  • 13 Challenging and contemporary competitions

Fang Lei presented her research Competition between ON and OFF Neural Pathways Enhancing Collision Selectivity

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

 

Abstract

The LGMD1 neuron of locusts shows strong looming-sensitive property for both light and dark objects. Although a few LGMD1 models have been proposed, they are not reliable to inhibit the translating motion under certain conditions compare to the biological LGMD1 in the locust. To address this issue, we propose a bio-plausible model to enhance the collision-selectivity by inhibiting the translating motion. The proposed model contains three parts, the retina to lamina layer for receiving luminance change signals, the lamina to medulla layer for extracting motion cues via ON and OFF pathways separately, the medulla to lobula layer for eliminating translational excitation with neural competition. We tested the model by synthetic stimuli and real physical stimuli. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed LGMD1 model has a strong preference for objects in direct collision course-it can detect looming objects in different conditions while completely ignoring translating objects.

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

When asked about her experience of the conference, Fang Lei said…

“Although I hoped to attend the conference physically, I was still excited as it was my first time attending the international conference. It started at midnight in China due to the time difference but I was eager to share my research with academic peers and share this experience with them.

I was asked to present at the conference and did so via a pre-uploaded video. I presented within the visual system session of IJCNN regular sessions. The presentation went very smoothly and we discussed problems with presenting papers by asking and answering questions.

I found the conference to be an interesting and meaningful experience for me. It was good to be able to spread our work to peers and gain knowledge of the work others are doing. The only thing I wish was that the conference was face-to-face.”

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

Jiannan Zhao completes 12 month secondment in China

Jiannan Zhao enrolled as a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln in 2016. In 2017-18 he visited Tsinghua University as part of the STEP2DYNA project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. During this secondment Jiannan developed the first generation of “locust-inspired collision detector for UAV” and demonstrated real flight with the bio-inspired algorithm on embedded system.

Jiannan has just completed his second 12 month secondment at the Guangzhou University in China as part of the ULTRACEPT project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. He has been involved in Work Package 1 and 4.

The ultimate objective of my PhD research has been to develop an automatic UAV platform with bio-inspired collision avoidance system. The aim of my secondment to Guangzhou University was to realise agile autonomous UAV flight based on LGMD collision detector.

During my secondment I analysed the challenges during 3D movement of the UAV flight and modelled a novel neural network to overcome these challenges.

The existing algorithms were inadequate for flight scenes. To fully achieve flexible automatic flight the algorithms needed to be enhanced to ensure they were robust against dynamic background noise. During my secondment to Guangzhou University I worked on modelling a robust and efficient locust-inspired algorithm for collision detection. Based on distributed presynaptic interconnections, I have developed a novel model appropriate for agile UAV flight, which can easily filter out insignificant visual cues by discriminating the angular velocity of images.

This model is robust for detecting near range emergent collision in dynamic backgrounds as demonstrated in the following video:

In the next phase of my research, the computational algorithm will be transplanted to embedded systems to achieve efficient automatic flight.

During my secondment I successfully submitted a paper to IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics in July 2020, titled ‘Enhancing LGMD’s Looming Selectivity for UAV Agile Flights with Spatial-temporal Distributed Presynaptic Connections’.

I also joined a group of four Tsinghua University robotic students and competed in the first International Competition for Autonomous Running Intelligent Robots in Beijing. We successfully competed against 32 other teams to take first prize. Read more about the competition here.

These Marie Sklodowska-Curie secondments have provided me access to facilities and recording equipment needed for setting up the UAV platform. Moreover, the weekly meetings with other colleagues of the project has broaden my sights and boosted my research skills.

 

Ubiquitous Robots 2020 Conference, Kyoto Japan

University of Lincoln researcher Hamid Isakhani returned to China to continue his ULTRACEPT secondment at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in June of 2020. Due to the unprecedented Covid situation Hamid was required to quarantine for 14 days in the Guangu Hotel. During this time, He virtually attended the Ubiquitous Robots 2020 Conference held in Kyoto, Japan.

Like many recent conferences, this was UR’s first ever virtual event. Organised by the Korea Robotics Society and co-sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, UR2020 brought together scientists and engineers across the world who are at the forefront of robotics and automation. The week-long conference held 22-26 June 2020 comprised a variety of Keynote speeches, workshops and break-out sessions. To read more about the conference you can visit the Ubiquitous Robots 2020 website, here.

Hamid presented his paper ‘A Bioinspired Airfoil Optimization Technique Using Nash Genetic Algorithm’ co-authored by Caihua Xiong, Shigang Yue and Wenbin Chen. This paper was nominated for the URA 2020 Best Paper Award.

Here is what Hamid had to say about the experience:

“2020 has been no ordinary from day one. Plane crashes, earth quakes, forest fires and now the devastating pandemic has certainly changed all of our lives for good or bad (reader’s perception). What is important is that we learn, adapt, and live on. Although some of our decisions are better than the others; like the AERO 2020 conference in France being postponed by over a year due to the pandemic compelling us to withdraw our participation, KROS on the other hand decided to take the leap and conduct the 17th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots (UR2020) in Kyoto, Japan on the originally scheduled dates virtually for the first time in its history. It was certainly challenging for both the organisers as well as the participants, yet it was a success with a lot of takeaways for everyone.

Although the core topic of our work is more related to the field of Aerospace, we were extremely pleased to learn that our work was greatly recognised by the robotics community and nominated for the best contributed paper award at UR2020.

On 25th June 2020, 09:00hrs (JST), our 10 minutes long pre-recorded presentation was played back on Zoom application for the audience who later raised their questions via the built-in Q&A tab provided on the platform. Participants had access to the audio and video of the presenter and the session Chair who communicated and sorted the posted questions through a one-on-one video call.

Online conference sceptics might argue that networking and physical meetings at an international conference is a significant advantage missing in a virtual event, especially for early career researchers. Fortunately, this feature was also thoughtfully integrated by the organisers on the Slack application where different channels were created for presenters to communicate and share opinions/contacts for a period of thirty days.

Overall, it was rather an interesting experience, although I was in my 14-days covid-19 quarantine in China, at least I didn’t have to attend my session past midnight in the UK (BST).”

Hamid remains in China to carry on his secondment activities, although not in quarantine anymore. He continues his study on the effects of haemolymph on the flexural stiffness of various flying insect species. You can learn more about Hamid’s research here.

Development of an Angular Velocity Decoding Model Accounting for Honeybees’ Visually Guided Flights

Huatian Wang received his BSc and MSc degree in Applied Mathematics from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2014 and 2017, respectively. He was awarded the Marie Curie Fellowship to be involved in the EU FP7 project LIVCODE (295151) as a Research Assistant in 2016.

Huatian enrolled as a PhD scholar at the University of Lincoln in January 2017. During his PhD, he carried out a 12 month secondment as an Early-Stage Researcher for the European Union’s Horizon 2020 STEP2DYNA (691154) project from 2017-18 at Tsinghua University. Following this, Huatian carried further secondments under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 ULTRACEPT (778062) project from 2019-2020. This included 1 month at Guangzhou University (GZHU), then 11 months at Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU). His research areas include image processing, insect vision and motion detection.Huatian Wang

I was mainly involved in the ULTRACEPT Work Package 1. The research focuses on modelling the visual processing systems of the flying insects like Drosophila and honeybees. Their extraordinary navigation ability in cluttered environments provide perfect inspiration for designing artificial neural networks. It can be used to guide the visual flight of micro air vehicles.

Although insects like flies and honeybees have tiny brains, they can deal with very complex visual flight tasks. Research has been undertaken for decades to understand how they detect visual motion. However, the neural mechanisms to explain their variety of behaviours, including patterned tunnel centring and terrain following, are still not clear. According to the honeybee behavioural experiments performed, the key to their excellent flight control ability is the angular velocity estimation and regulation.

To solve the fundamental problem of the angular velocity estimation, we proposed a novel angular velocity decoding model for explaining the honeybee’s flight behaviours of tunnel centring and terrain following, capable of reproducing observations of the large independence to the spatial frequency and contrast of the gratings in visually guide flights of honeybees. The model combines both temporal and texture information to decode the angular velocity. The angular velocity estimation of the model is little affected by the spatial frequency and contrast in synthetic grating experiments. The model is also tested behaviourally in Unity with the tunnel centring and terrain following paradigms. A demo video can be found on YouTube here. The simulated bee flies over a textured terrain using only ventral visual information to avoid collision.

During my secondment, I presented a poster as part of our work at the IJCNN 2019 conference in Budapest which you can read about here. This gave me the opportunity to share my research with the scientific community at the conference. The picture shows the communication I had with other researchers during the poster session.

Huatian Wang attending the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) July 2019
Huatian Wang attending the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) July 2019

I also attended and presented my work at the ULTRACEPT mid-term meeting in February 2020 which you can read about here. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, I was not able to attend the event in person. Instead, I attended and presented via video conference.

Huatian Wang presenting at the ULTRACEPT mid-term meeting Feb 2020
Huatian Wang presenting at the ULTRACEPT mid-term meeting Feb 2020

These secondments have provided me with the opportunity to work with leading academics in this field of research. For example, I was able to discuss the mathematical model of elementary motion detection and the signal simulation using sinusoidal gratings with Prof. Jigen Peng at GZHU, as well as the sparse reconstruction method in compressing sensing theory with Dr. Angang Cui at XJTU.

I also worked alongside fellow researchers. For example, I helped Dr. Qinbing to build up a database about the Collision Detection in various automotive scenes. We collected videos using a dashboard camera and made suitable cuts using video editing software.

I also attended numerous seminars and guest lectures. For example,  I attended a seminar on solving sparse linear system using smooth approximation methods. These experiences helped me to  develop my skills and knowledge and to further my research.

During the final two months of my secondment I had to work from my home in China since the university closed due to Covid-19. However, I was able to use this time to carry out video conference discussions with my supervisors both in Xian and Lincoln. I also used my desktop computer to run simulation experiments and spent time preparing academic research papers.

Thanks to the support of the ULTRACEPT project, I was able to introduce our work to other groups and attract their attention to this research field, which is helpful for improving the impact of our research.

 During my one-year secondment in China, I established a friendship with Prof. Peng and other colleagues at Guangzhou University and Xi’an Jiaotong University. The cooperation with colleagues of these institutions boosted the development of the neural modelling for visual navigation. I was also able to introduce ULTRACEPT Project to other researchers in GU and XJTU. The mathematical analysing ability has been significantly improved during the cooperation with Prof. Peng. The programming ability has also been improved with my colleagues’ help.

Guangdong ‘Zhongchuang Cup’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition

The 2019 Guangdong “Zhongchuang Cup” Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition was held from 18th to 19th  September 2019 in Jiangmen, China.

The aim of this post-doctoral innovation competition is to transform potential scientific research into business by developing doctoral talents. There were close to 400 attendees at the event which included the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Guangdong Provincial Department of Human Resources and Social Security, relevant leaders of Jiangmen City, expert judges, and postdoctoral talents.

Cheng Hu from the University of Lincoln, who is currently on secondment at Guangzhou University, competed at the event where he showcased the Colias robot platform.

Cheng Hu at the Guangdong 'Zhongchuang Cup' Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition
Cheng Hu at the Guangdong ‘Zhongchuang Cup’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition

The postdoctoral innovation competition attracted 476 projects from six strategic emerging industries including biomedicine and general health, electronic information, new energy, energy conservation and environmental protection, new materials, the Internet and mobile Internet, and advanced manufacturing .

Out of the initial 476 projects, 328 entered the preliminary round. Of these, 60 outstanding projects advanced to the semi-finals, which included Cheng. As a result of advancing to the semi-finals, Cheng was invited to participate in innovative counselling training delivered by the National Postdoctoral Innovation (Jiangmen) Demonstration Center and Guangzhou Leading Human Resources Development Co. Ltd. Training included “Business Plan Writing” and “Business Project Roadshow Training”

Award winners at the Guangdong 'Zhongchuang Cup' Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition
Award winners at the Guangdong ‘Zhongchuang Cup’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition

From these 60 semi-finalists, 24 elite projects reached the finals. Cheng achieved an outstanding result and received the “winning award” ranking 12 of 30 in the semi-final, and 9 of 12 in the final.

Cheng Hu receiving award at the Guangdong 'Zhongchuang Cup' Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition
Cheng Hu receiving award at the Guangdong ‘Zhongchuang Cup’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition

Guangdong (Foshan) Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference

Whilst on secondment at ULTRACEPT partner Guangzhou University, Xuelong Sun and Dr Cheng Hu from the University of Lincoln attended the Guangdong (Foshan) Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference.

Each city of Guangdong province is provided a space in which to display their best innovation and entrepreneurship examples of 2019. As one of the city-governed universities, Guangzhou University was asked to select its most attractive and novel research to showcase at the  event. Xuelong and Cheng were recommended by Guangzhou University to give a demonstration of their ColCOSP system and Colias robot platform.

The event was hosted by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Human Resources and Social Security and the Foshan Municipal People’s Government. It was held on November 18, 2019 at the Tanzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center  in Foshan, China in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Nearly 1,200 people from all over the world gathered in Foshan to participate. The opening ceremony was chaired by Qiao Yu, deputy mayor of the Foshan Municipal Government.

Xuelong Sun and Cheng Hu at the Guangdong Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference
Xuelong Sun and Cheng Hu at the Guangdong Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference

The conference lasted two days, with the theme of “bringing talents from all over the world and creating a talent bay area”, with the key aim of “promoting exchange and cooperation of post-doctoral talents and serving the transformation of post-doctoral scientific and technological achievements”.

At the event, Xuelong and Cheng gave a demonstration of their ColCOSP system and the Colias robot platform to the esteemed delegates and to the wider community of the Robotics and AI. They also exchanged some knowledge, ideas and interests concerning Robotics and AI with researchers from the related fields. Xuelong added  “It was a great chance to let more people know our platforms and researching supported by EU H2020 project”.

 

Dr Shyamala Doraisamy Featured in the EURAXESS ASEAN Newsletter

Shyamala Doraisamy is an Associate Professor at the Department of Multimedia, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University Putra Malaysia (UPM). UPM is a partner in the ULTRACEPT project and Dr. Doraisamy is UPM’s Partner Lead.

Dr. Doraisamy featured in the final EURAXESS ASEAN Newsletter for 2019. The article explained how UPM became involved in the ULTRACEPT project and what their role has been in the consortium.

Dr. Doraisamy received her PhD from Imperial College London in 2004, specializing in the field of Music Information Retrieval and won an award for her music and computing innovation at the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX), Pittsburgh, USA in 2007. Her research interest includes Multimedia Information Processing, focusing in particular on sound analysis and has completed several projects on music and health applications. She has been an invited speaker at various conference and research meetings internationally.

Dr. Doraisamy is an active member of the Malaysian Information Retrieval and Knowledge Management Society and was the Chair of the 2018 IEEE 2018 International Conference on Information Retrieval and Knowledge Management Conference (CAMP’18).

During 2019, Dr. Doraisamy has been on secondment at the University of Lincoln (UoL) along with Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Siavash Bahrami and Experienced Researcher (ER) Azreen Azman.

UPM secondees
Shyamala with UPM researchers Azreen Bahrami (L) and Siavash Bahrami (R)

UPM has been working on the theme of road safety related to the project. The tasks assigned to UPM were mainly based on the work packages, WP2, WP3 and WP4. The team has focused in particular on contributions for task 2.3 in WP2 – ‘To develop long range hazard perception methods coping with low light conditions’.

Dr. Doraisamy secondment has included initial meetings with partners and the completion of proposal discussions for a collaborative PhD research work with Siavash Bahrami. The tasks completed have been based on this collaborative PhD research being co-supervised by UPM and UoL. The research involves investigating the use of sound data for road wetness levels estimation to support the development of long range hazard methods coping with low light conditions.  You can read more about Siavash’s research here.

The team will continue to utilise audiovisual technologies towards the development of Brain-inspired vision systems for long-range hazard perception (WP2).

The article in the EURAXESS ASEAN Newsletter also highlights how participation in an MSCA-RISE can be beneficial for Malaysian research groups and Dr. Doraisamy also provides advice on getting involved in future RISE consortia.

 

Development of an Autonomous Flapping Wing Robot Locust – Linloc

Hamid Isakhani received B.Eng. in Aeronautics from Visvesvaraya Technological University, and an MSc by Research in Aerospace from Cranfield University in 2015 and 2017, respectively. He was an intern engineer at the Indian Space Research Organisation and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited during the years 2012 and 2014, respectively. He is currently a PhD scholar at the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln since 2017, and visited Tsinghua University as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow from 2018-19. As of July 2019, He is seconded to the Huazhong University of Science and Technology to support the progress of the following Tasks and Work Packages included as part of the Project –Ultracept funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska -Curie grant agreement 778062:

  • WP4Systems integration, miniaturization, verification and demonstration

Task 4.4: To build a demonstrator system for the collision avoidance

Ultimately, my doctoral project aims to develop a locust-inspired articulated wing robotic platform capable of performing autonomous flight. This platform shall serve as a demonstrator/testbed to validate the robustness of the vision based collision avoidance system developed as part of the first three work packages included in the projects Step2Dyna and Ultracept. Additionally, completion of this project shall result in the development of a fully-bioinspired flapping wing micro aerial vehicle that is the first of its kind in terms of being entirely inspired by an insect’s flight mechanics, aerodynamics, and avionics.

Significant progress was made at our partner institution, The State Key Laboratory of Digital Manufacturing Equipment and Technology, HUST. Rapid prototyping, manufacturing, and motion capture analysis were some of the vital stages of our project facilitated at this institution.

Hamid Isakhani working on additive manufacturing of locust wing prototypes
Hamid Isakhani working on additive manufacturing of locust wing prototypes

To study the flapping mechanism and gliding behaviour of swarming locusts, we setup a small locust colony at HUST, where we bred adult locusts carefully selected for their physical characteristics indicative of health (strong free-flight ability, good wing condition, etc.).

Small locust colony housing approximately 300 adult Schistocerca gregaria
Small locust colony housing approximately 300 adult Schistocerca gregaria

Specimen are anesthetized in a CO2 chamber for 5 minutes to ease the inlaying of custom-made micro sized retroreflective markers. Each hemispherical marker weighs less than 0.1±0.05mg and 0.5mm in radius to facilitate precise tracking and centroid calculation by the cameras.

CO2 Chamber and retroreflector marked locust
CO2 Chamber and retroreflector marked locust

Generally, due to the resolution limitations of high-speed cameras, capture volumes are highly cramped. Therefore, there is very limited literature on the study of insect free-flight kinematics and their swarm behavior, i.e. the flying insects under experimentation are either tethered or flown in confined flight chambers. However, with the help of a set of well calibrated infrared-based Vicon motion capture system (Vicon, Oxford, UK), consisting of three MX-T160 and four MX-T40s cameras arranged to provide a tracking volume of 0.6×0.6×0.6m, the three-dimensional position and orientation data of a micro swam of gliding locusts are successfully recorded.

Vicon motion capture system consisting of MX-T160 and MX-T40s cameras
Vicon motion capture system consisting of MX-T160 and MX-T40s cameras

Nevertheless, the scientific input and assistance provided by the project director Prof. Yue and the host faculty, Prof. Xiong played a key factor in accomplishing the afore mentioned tasks.

Furthermore, the measured data vectors must be post-processed to derive the kinematic information required to integrate and design an efficient bioinspired wing articulation mechanism mimicking a gliding locust airborne.