• Sep 23rd 2008 at 10:01AM
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If you think your morning commute looks (and feels) like a bunch of insects randomly swarming toward a multitude of random destinations, you'd be mostly right. But only mostly. Research by the Insect Vision Laboratory shows that like your fellow rush-hour drivers, swarming African locusts are busy calculating the position, direction and speed of the other travelers around them. Unlike all those other drivers, African locusts never run into each other. We'd be willing to argue that's definitive proof most drivers are dumber than common insects.

Volvo, however, sees more than just the obvious. Instead, they see a possible way to keep all those clueless drivers safe by studying just how those locusts are able to avoid collisions.

But there's a lot of work to do before the automaker can put nature to work on the streets. The researchers theorize that the bugs can easily miss hitting each other because they're somehow able to send information straight from their sensory organs to their wings, completely bypassing their simplistic brains. That ability to instantly translate data into action keeps the locusts crash free. The problem is that currently automotive technology can't match the locusts' data-processing talents. So for at least the immediate future, have a little sympathy for those other guys out there. They actually are less intelligent than the bugs stuck in your grille.

[Source: Wired]

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