Collision Selective Visual Neural Network Inspired by LGMD2 Neurons in Juvenile Locusts

For autonomous robots in dynamic environments mixed with human, it is vital to detect impending collision quickly and robustly. The biological visual systems evolved over millions of years may provide us efficient solutions for collision detection in complex environments... In the cockpit of locusts, two Lobula Giant Movement Detectors, i.e. LGMD1 and LGMD2, have been identified which respond to looming objects rigorously with high firing rates. Compared to LGMD1, LGMD2 matures early in the juvenile locusts with specific selectivity to dark moving objects against bright background in depth while not responding to light objects embedded in dark background - a similar situation which ground vehicles and robots are facing with. However, little work has been done on modeling LGMD2, let alone its potential in robotics and other vision-based applications. In this article, we propose a novel way of modeling LGMD2 neuron, with biased ON and OFF pathways splitting visual streams into parallel channels encoding brightness increments and decrements separately to fulfill its selectivity. Moreover, we apply a biophysical mechanism of spike frequency adaptation to shape the looming selectivity in such a collision-detecting neuron model. The proposed visual neural network has been tested with systematic experiments, challenged against synthetic and real physical stimuli, as well as image streams from the sensor of a miniature robot. The results demonstrated this framework is able to detect looming dark objects embedded in bright backgrounds selectively, which make it ideal for ground mobile platforms. The robotic experiments also showed its robustness in collision detection - it performed well for near range navigation in an arena with many obstacles. Its enhanced collision selectivity to dark approaching objects versus receding and translating ones has also been verified via systematic experiments. read more

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