Ecosystem Hacking: Enhancing Insect Swarm Resilience Through Targeted Light Stimuli

Tomáš Krajník, PhD
Associate Professor
Czech Technical University in Prague, Czechia
Research interests
Mobile Robotics, Cybernetics, Chronorobotics

The ongoing climate change, along with farmland overexploitation, mono-crop and pesticide abuse, habitat reduction and fragmentation, has drastically reduced species diversity, threatening the stability of many ecosystems.
Ecosystem hacking uses technologies to create biohybrid entities to aid keystone ecosystem species in order to counter these threats.
Among the most affected groups are honeybees, keystone species that play a crucial role in pollination and hence are crucial for ecosystem stability.
We present a novel visible light-based swarm control through a single colony member.
We demonstrate how this minimally invasive stimulus can be used to affect a key individual in a social insect colony with the ultimate goal of influencing the interaction of the colony with the surrounding ecosystem.
This is achieved by a closed-loop system capable of real-time localization and light-based stimulation of the honeybee queen inside of a colony.
By applying the light stimuli, we can affect her likelihood of remaining in a particular area.
Using this system to affect the locations where the queen lays eggs, we will be able to improve the spatial distribution of the larvae and the queen pheromones.
This might increase the reproduction rate, reduce brood cannibalism, and strengthen the resilience of the colony to adverse weather or parasites.
This could modulate the colony’s pollination activity which significantly influences the surrounding ecosystem.

Tomas Krajník (Member, IEEE) received the Ph.D. degree in artificial intelligence and biocybernetics from Czech Technical University (CTU), Prague, Czech Republic, in 2012.,From 2013 to 2017, he was a Research Fellow with the Lincoln Center of Autonomous Systems, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, U.K. He is currently an Associate Professor with CTU. His research focuses on robust perception of robots, spatiotemporal modeling, and long-term mobile robot operation in changing environments.