ActiveAI is an EPSRC-funded International Centre-to-Centre grant, partnering Brains on Board with an Australian cluster of excellence in insect neuroscience and behaviour.

ActiveAI is developing a new class of controllers for problems in which insects excel but current AI/machine learning methods struggle. These problems have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • learning must occur rapidly
  • learning samples are few or costly
  • computational resources are limited, and
  • the learning problem changes over time.

Insects deal with such complex tasks robustly despite limited computational power because learning is an active process emerging from the interaction of evolved brains, bodies and behaviours. Through a virtuous cycle of modelling and experiments we will develop insect-inspired models, in which behavioural strategies and specialised sensors actively structure sensory input while selective attention drives learning to the most salient information.

ActiveAI connects two complementary centres of research excellence: the UK Brains on Board programme of bio-inspired autonomous robotics and the Australian research network in insect neuroethology comprising Macquarie University (Andrew Barron, Ken Cheng, Ajay Narendra), Flinders University (Karin Nordström) and the University of Queensland (Bruno van Swinderen). By combining cutting edge methods in insect neuroscience (Aus) with computational and biorobotic modelling (UK), we will both advance neuroscience and enable ActiveAI solutions which are efficient in learning and final network configuration, robust to real-world conditions and learn rapidly.