Future Autonomous Machines Could Think Like Honey Bees

Recent research explores how bees make such accurate decisions with so few neurons.

A recent study published in the journal eLife provides new insights on how a bee, which has a brain the size of a sesame seed, can make such swift and accurate decisions when searching flowers for nectar. Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Sydney’s Macquarie University say the results could one day lead to more efficient robots and autonomous machines.

According to the press release, a bee needs only 0.6 seconds to decide whether or not a flower is likely to have food, which is much faster than a human can do it. For a robot to think that efficiently would require the backing of a supercomputer.

The researchers built a computer model to simulate a bee’s decision-making process and discovered that their model “looked very similar to the physical layout of a bee’s brain.” The full journal article “How Honey Bees Make Fast and Accurate Decisions” is freely available at the eLife website.