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Third-party-funded project

The higher control of insect walking by the brain - neurogenetical analysis in Drosophila, application to robots

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

Manoeuvrability and autonomy of walking insects set an unrivaled example for legged robots. After all, the basal leg coordination mechanisms of insects are being used successfully for technical systems. Error tolerant leg coordination is achieved by the thoracic centers of the insect nervous system. However, the important influences of the higher control centers in the insect brain on the lower centers in the thorax had hardly been studied. In this project we are analysing respective functions in the fruit fly Drosophila which offers the rich spectrum of non-invasive neurogenetic methods. We are especially interested in the functions of a conspicuous neuropilar region called central complex, which is present in all insect brains and interconnects the protocerebral brain hemispheres. The central complex is involved in the valuation of sensory information and in bringing about coherent, autonomous behavior. As the basis of this project we have isolated 230 mutant lines with congenital walking defects. Also, we have established quantitative behavioral paradigms. The combination allows us to map and analyse modules of walking control at all levels of the nervous system. The results are being used to construct insect-like autonomous robots with high manoeuvrability.

Key words:
    insect walking
    functional brain analysis
    autonomous robots
    orientation behaviour
    walking robots
    control of walking
    Drosophila neurogenetics

Projekt period: from 02.1999 to 01.2004

Funding institution:
Bund ,Granting date: 25.02.1999

Preceding project: