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Sensors  2012 

Bio-Inspired Polarized Skylight-Based Navigation Sensors: A Review

DOI: 10.3390/s121114232

Keywords: bioinstrumentation, bio-inspired, polarized skylight navigation sensor

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Abstract:

Animal senses cover a broad range of signal types and signal bandwidths and have inspired various sensors and bioinstrumentation devices for biological and medical applications. Insects, such as desert ants and honeybees, for example, utilize polarized skylight pattern-based information in their navigation activities. They reliably return to their nests and hives from places many kilometers away. The insect navigation system involves the dorsal rim area in their compound eyes and the corresponding polarization sensitive neurons in the brain. The dorsal rim area is equipped with photoreceptors, which have orthogonally arranged small hair-like structures termed microvilli. These are the specialized sensors for the detection of polarized skylight patterns (e-vector orientation). Various research groups have been working on the development of novel navigation systems inspired by polarized skylight-based navigation in animals. Their major contributions are critically reviewed. One focus of current research activities is on imitating the integration path mechanism in desert ants. The potential for simple, high performance miniaturized bioinstrumentation that can assist people in navigation will be explored.

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