Principles of Fly Sensorimotor Control Design what we can learn from using bio-hybrid systems

Holger Krapp, PhD
Imperial College London,UK
Research Interests
Insect sensorimotor control, Sensor fusion, Integrated control design

Animals, including humans, are perfect examples of fully autonomous systems that have evolved their sensorimotor control systems under major biological constraints: severe energy limitations and the use of sensor systems with limited bandwidth that are mostly incapable of measuring absolute values. And yet, they are perfectly capable to operate within a broad range of different environments. What are the principles underlying biological sensorimotor control?

In my presentation I will provide a few examples including state-dependent processing of sensory information, multisensor fusion and some control design principles that enable a robust and energy efficient integration of stabilization reflexes, guidance and navigation. We have developed a bio-hybrid fly-robot-interface (FRI) to study how local ambiguous sensor signals may be integrated within and across different sensory modalities to obtain reliable state estimates. The focus will be on the question of how non-linear visual motion detectors may be used for distance estimation in a visually structured environment under closed loop conditions. To validate electrophysiological data recorded from a directional-selective interneuron in the fly motion vision pathway, we have set up a virtual reality system for open-loop experiments. The differences found between the results obtained with those approaches will be discussed in the broader context of what we can learn from using bio-hybrid systems to advance our understanding of biological sensorimotor control principles.               

Holger G Krapp was awarded his PhD from the University of Tuebingen in 1995 for his work at the Max-Planck Institute for biological Cybernetics on neural mechanisms underlying visual self-motion estimation in flies. After a brief postdoc period at the same institute, he became postdoctoral scholar at Caltech to work on looming detection in locust in 1996. He took up a senior postdoc position at Bielefeld University in 1997 and accepted a temporary position as lecturer in sensory neuroscience at the University of Cambridge in 2000. In 2005 he became senior lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at ICL and was promoted to Reader and Professor in 2009 and 2015, respectively.