Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics - CCNR

Outreach

CCNR researchers have always believed in the value of Public Engagement and Schools Outreach. In recent years, we have presented our work at the British Science Festival, the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, Big Bang STEM festivals, Cafe Scientifiques, Nerd Nites amongst other events. We have also developed resources and software that can be used in educational contexts.

Ant collective behaviour simulators

We have developed a series of Java applets to demonstrate the approach of synthetic simulations in biology. Using this approach it is possible to explore how simple rules can lead to complex emerging behaviour using ant pheromones as an example. The Ant Swarm Simulators can be found here.

BeePilot VR

BeePilot is a an interactive demonstration showing some basic principles of bee vision. A participant is put into a virtual environment which they view though an accurate model of a honeybees visual system.

When used as a demonstration simulation is run as a game where one participant uses the virtual reality headset and tries to find as many flowers as possible in a given time period. Onlookers are encouraged to direct the person controlling the bee. This emphasizes the difficulties a bee faces in using vision to guide her behavior, and her need to rely on other information sources. The software is Open Source and can be found here.

Braitenberg Robots

Simple robots can be used to demonstrate the importance of an agent's body and environment when designing an artificial brain. Lucas Wilkins and James Thorniley designed cheap and easy to make robots kits that can be used in a series of demonstrations and 'games'. Details of how to build them can be found here. 

Swarm Simulations

James Thorniley created this simulation of schooling fish to explore how simple local rules can create coordianted group behaviour. The simulation is inspired by the seminal BOIDS simulation of Craig Reynolds. Go here to play and explore how coordinated group movement comes about and how it might help animals reduce predator risk.