Feeds

Tiny trackers untangle bee secrets

Navigating for efficiency

Intelligent flash storage arrays

UK researchers have used radar tracking - very small radar tracking - to help shed light on bumblebee navigation.

Since there's long been an obsession about the bumblebee's supposed inability to fly, getting them airborne with a backpack seems something of a feat. The results of the research, described in this PLOS article, could help humans find efficient solutions to the "travelling salesman" problem.

In computer science, that problem is classified as NP-hard - but solutions are valuable for everything from logistics to network topology.

The research, conducted by Lars Chittka at the University of London, used both the radar trackers and video footage to study how bumblebees optimised their routes between hives and nectar sources that the researchers moved once the subjects had their route worked out.

Route optimisation is important to bees, since they live on a delicate balance of the energy available for foraging and the return they get.

As this PLOS synopsis notes, bees seem to combine trial-and-error with memory to get the best route. Between their first and last attempts, the bumblebees were able to optimise their routes by around 80 percent.

While the researcher found that computers could (unsurprisingly) get the best "trapline", the bees came very close, and generally only needed to test around 20 of 120 possible routes to come up with a good result. "This tradeoff between perfection and speed highlights the differences between mathematical and biological solutions to the travelling salesman problem," the article notes. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.