While lacking a certain amount of grace, flying insects manage to do a whole lot with quite a little. Each compound eye of a housefly picks up about 3,000 pixels of info, and that data, paired with a few neurons of a brain, manages to keep the fly aloft and (for the most part) from crashing into anything. Nicolas Franceschini and his colleagues in France have been studying the tiny brains for 30 years, and their latest robot could provide some advancements to the navigation technology being used in robotic aircraft. The bot is a three ounce miniature helicopter with a 200 milligram electronic brain and a visual sensor that's pointed downward. The helicopter mimics the insect processing of visual cues to figure out how far above the ground it is and how fast it's going, and according to Franceschini "it never crashes." It's rather ironic to be planning to "upgrade" UAVs with such minimal computing power in place of the pricey and computation-heavy instrumentation they currently carry, but the technology sounds promising all the same.

[Via The Raw Feed]

ACCESS Linux Platform on display at 3GSM