Constructing the Antarium

Zoltán Kócsi, PhD student, ANU Research School of Biology

The Antarium is a 1m diameter spherical projection equipment which can present the natural visual scene for an ant using 20 thousand green/blue pixels and 500 variable polarisation ultraviolet pixels, with 200 frames per second and the screen flicker rate being at least an order of magnitude higher. Inside the sphere we place a tethered ant onto a trackball which records her movements and in a closed loop controls the scenery projected by the sphere.

There were formidable engineering challenges to build such a device. Not entirely unexpectedly with electronics of the complexity of the Antarium, there were a few design problems with the board layout as well as the circuitry itself. I will briefly describe the major technical issues that needed to be addressed and present some initial data on how ants behave on track balls.

In addition, I'd like to briefly introduce a couple of the hurdles we face when trying to understand even the simplest biological neural networks.


Zoltán Kócsi is a PhD student at the Research School of Biology. He has a Masters in Electronics Engineering from the Technical University of Budapest. After working for a range of research institutes and industrial firms he now makes a living as an embedded systems consultant. He would like to comprehend how an insect brain of a few hundred thousand neurons running on milligrams of sugar and spiking at a few Hz to few 100 Hz range, when facing seemingly simple tasks like finding food or going home, can invariably outperform our computers with GHz clocks and TBs of storage.

Date & time

4–5.30pm 24 May 2017


Room: Seminar room N101


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