Bat vision system could help protect buildings

BatsVital data on bat behaviour is being analysed by a computer vision system developed by the University of Lincoln and Lincolnshire Bat Group.

The technique, which uses a high-speed camera, filming in infra-red, is being developed by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK. It monitors wing beat frequency which might enable the Group to classify species of bat.

Being able to identify individual species would provide extra information on how to effectively manage and protect the buildings they inhabit.

Bat populations frequently roost in buildings, such as churches, which can cause problems in terms of corrosive faeces damaging the structure and valuable artefacts.

As a highly protected species, conservation groups are looking for ways in which to control colonies in a non-invasive way.

PhD student John Atanbori and Dr Patrick Dickinson, from the School of Computer Science, developed the system which has been used by the Lincolnshire Bat Group to collect data on a colony which have been rescued and are being re-habilitated.

John said: “This computer vision technique is able to monitor repeated patterns in wing beat frequency. As specie type can be determined from the way a bat moves its wings this provides vital information not only for conservationists studying the animals, but also building managers and professional ecologists. Wing beat frequency is just one feature that could be monitored to determine species, but the project hopes to eventually encompass other features such as the shape and weight of the bat to provide a faster, more detailed classification. We also hope to transfer this research to birds in the future.”

Data is being collected by the Lincolnshire Bat Group, a local arm of the Bat Conservation Trust.

Dr Peter Cowling, from the Group, which is part of the Bat Conservation Trust, said: “To conserve bats we need to establish the size of current bat populations, working out which bats are where and how they are responding to the threats and pressures they face. By monitoring bats we can discover the factors that are important for their survival. We can identify which species need action now, what areas are important for bats and what threats bats face.”

John presented his research at the National Bat Conference at the University of Warwick in September.

He also presented at CAIP 2013 – an international conference devoted to all aspects of computer vision, image analysis and processing, pattern and recognition.

Funded PhD Position – Cognitive Robotics

Using robots to understand animal social cognition:

We are offering a funded PhD position for an enthusiastic and highly-motivated student to join a thriving and dynamic research environment, and benefit from close associations with both the School of Life Sciences and the School of Computer Science.

The aim of this project is to develop a robot that is able to respond dynamically to the behaviour of the focal animal and use it in a series of cognitive experiments. Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are an ideal model species for such an endeavour. They are responsive to social cues and show sophisticated social learning abilities. In addition they have relatively simple behavioural repertoires and movement patterns which can be accurately replicated by a robotic simulant.

Contact:

For more information and details on how to apply for this exciting opportunity contact Dr. John Murray (jomurray@lincoln.ac.uk)

Robot reaches a major milestone: Running autonomously for 30 days

Linda robotLinda, Lincoln’s mobile robot developed in the STRANDS project, will soon be reaching a first major project milestone: Running autonomously for a total of 30 days. While this seems easy too achieve for today’s industrial robots, Linda has continuously been patrolling an office space at the School of Computer Science University of Lincoln which is not designed to accommodate a robot.

The challenges Linda faced when she was on duty for 24/7 for a whole month were changing lighting conditions, re-arrangement of furniture, and blockage of her way. During this time Linda travelled more than a 100km. Her progress is documented on her Twitter account.

University of Lincoln, UK