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University of Adelaide test dragonfly neuron for artificial vision system in driverless cars

A dragonfly's ability to predict the movement of its prey is being harnessed to improve the way driverless cars manoeuvre in traffic.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide and Lund University in Sweden have found a neuron in dragonfly brains that anticipates movement.

The properties of the target-detecting neurons are being replicated in a small robot in Adelaide to test its potential for artificial vision systems used in driverless cars.

South Australia has a history of involvement with autonomous car research and in 2015 held the first driverless car trials in the southern hemisphere.

The University of Adelaide's autonomous robot testing its sensing techniques derived from dragonflies. UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

It hosts a number of autonomous car companies including Cohda Wireless, which enables vehicles to communicate with the infrastructure around them using its V2X ('vehicle to everything') technology, and RDM Group, a UK driverless car maker which opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Adelaide earlier this year.

The new discovery could add momentum to the emerging local industry, said research supervisor and lecturer at the University of Adelaide's Medical School, Steven Wiederman.

"It is one thing for artificial systems to be able to see moving targets, but tracing movement so it can move out of the way of those things is a really important aspect to self-steering vehicles," he said.

Mr Wiederman said the local driverless car engineers were interested in a "hydrid" of their existing computer vision models with algorithms drawn from nature, which could respond better in "unstructured, unpredictable" environments.

"What we found was the neuron in dragonflies not only predicted where a target would reappear, it also traced movement from one eye to the other – even across the brain hemispheres.

"This is also evident in cluttered environments where an object might be difficult to distinguish from the background," he said.

The research team, led by University of Adelaide PhD student Joseph Fabian, found that target-detecting neurons increased dragonfly responses in a small "focus" area just in front of the location of a moving object being tracked.

If the object then disappeared from the field of vision, the focus spread forward over time, allowing the brain to predict where the target was most likely to reappear.

The neuronal prediction was based on the previous path along which the prey had flown.

Dr Wiederman said this phenomenon was not only evident when dragonflies hunted small prey but when they chased after a mate as well.

This is similar to when a human judges the trajectory of a ball as it is thrown to them, even when it is moving against the backdrop of a cheering crowd.

The research project is the first time a target-tracking model inspired by insect neurophysiology has been installed on an autonomous robot and tested under real-world conditions.

The study of the neuron, known as CSTMD1, was published on Tuesday in the journal eLife.

Researcher Zahra Bagheri from the University of Adelaide said there was growing interest in the use of robots for applications in industry, health and medical services, and entertainment products.

"However, our robots are still far behind the accuracy, efficiency and adaptability of the algorithms which exist in biological systems," she said.

"Nature provides a proof of concept that practical real-world solutions exist, and with millions of years of evolution behind them, these solutions are highly efficient," she said.

A study on the implementation of CSTMD1 into the robot was published earlier this month in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

The research project is an international collaboration funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Australian Research Council and STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education.

Previously, Dr Wiederman and his research team demonstrated that bees had vision up to 30 per cent better than previous studies suggested.

This finding has also been beneficial in improving the vision of robots.

Source: http://www.afr.com/technology/university-of-adelaide-test-dragonfly-neuron-for-artificial-vision-system-in-driverless-cars-20170725-gxikpq

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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