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Sensors 2012, 12(11), 14232-14261; doi:10.3390/s121114232
Review

Bio-Inspired Polarized Skylight-Based Navigation Sensors: A Review

1,2,* , 1
 and
1,3
1 Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia 2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 3 Institute of Applied Physics, Vienna University of Technology, Wiedner Hauptstrasse 8-10/134, 1040 Vienna, Austria
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 September 2012 / Revised: 15 October 2012 / Accepted: 15 October 2012 / Published: 24 October 2012
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Abstract

Animal senses cover a broad range of signal types and signal bandwidths and have inspired various sensors and bioinstrumentation devices for biological and medical applications. Insects, such as desert ants and honeybees, for example, utilize polarized skylight pattern-based information in their navigation activities. They reliably return to their nests and hives from places many kilometers away. The insect navigation system involves the dorsal rim area in their compound eyes and the corresponding polarization sensitive neurons in the brain. The dorsal rim area is equipped with photoreceptors, which have orthogonally arranged small hair-like structures termed microvilli. These are the specialized sensors for the detection of polarized skylight patterns (e-vector orientation). Various research groups have been working on the development of novel navigation systems inspired by polarized skylight-based navigation in animals. Their major contributions are critically reviewed. One focus of current research activities is on imitating the integration path mechanism in desert ants. The potential for simple, high performance miniaturized bioinstrumentation that can assist people in navigation will be explored.
Keywords: bioinstrumentation; bio-inspired; polarized skylight navigation sensor bioinstrumentation; bio-inspired; polarized skylight navigation sensor
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Karman, S.B.; Diah, S.Z.M.; Gebeshuber, I.C. Bio-Inspired Polarized Skylight-Based Navigation Sensors: A Review. Sensors 2012, 12, 14232-14261.

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