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Locusts Improving Car Safety

Posted by who am I On January - 6 - 2009

What do Locusts have to do with car technology? Scientists have discovered that the African Locust has a unique internal radar system – which could improve car safety. Volvo hopes by unlocking the secret they can use the technology to cut down on road traffic accidents.

[Jonas Ekmark, Volvo Safety Division]:
“Imagine that you are grasshopper in a swarm of grasshoppers flying over the fields trying to find food. There is almost chaos in the swarm but there are no traffic rules. Still the individual grasshoppers are able to avoid collisions.”

Locusts have a giant movement detector behind their eyes. It releases bursts of energy when they’re on a collision course, allowing them to move out of the way very quickly.

Scientist Dr. Clair Rind made the connection whilst driving.

[Dr. Clair Rind, Newcastle University]:
“I think it was my own experience driving and being a pedestrian and realizing that the ability that I found in the Locust would be very valuable in that context. The Locust has a very quick reaction and the circuits are very reliable and they do their computation against such a lot of clutter and that’s exactly what its like driving in town.”

Every year millions of drivers and pedestrians are injured by cars unable to stop in time.

Volvo wants to reproduce the Locust’s radar system onto a computer chip and install inside a camera.
If they succeed, it would revolutionize road traffic safety. All this could happen within 10-15 years.
And that could mean fewer accidents on the roads.

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