Allothetic and idiothetic sensor fusion in rat-inspired robot localization

Alfredo Weitzenfeld, Jean Marc Fellous, Alejandra Barrera, Gonzalo Tejera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


We describe a spatial cognition model based on the rat's brain neurophysiology as a basis for new robotic navigation architectures. The model integrates allothetic (external visual landmarks) and idiothetic (internal kinesthetic information) cues to train either rat or robot to learn a path enabling it to reach a goal from multiple starting positions. It stands in contrast to most robotic architectures based on SLAM, where a map of the environment is built to provide probabilistic localization information computed from robot odometry and landmark perception. Allothetic cues suffer in general from perceptual ambiguity when trying to distinguish between places with equivalent visual patterns, while idiothetic cues suffer from imprecise motions and limited memory recalls. We experiment with both types of cues in different maze configurations by training rats and robots to find the goal starting from a fixed location, and then testing them to reach the same target from new starting locations. We show that the robot, after having pre-explored a maze, can find a goal with improved efficiency, and is able to (1) learn the correct route to reach the goal, (2) recognize places already visited, and (3) exploit allothetic and idiothetic cues to improve on its performance. We finally contrast our biologically-inspired approach to more traditional robotic approaches and discuss current work in progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMultisensor, Multisource Information Fusion
Subtitle of host publicationArchitectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2012
ISBN (Print)9780819490858
StatePublished - 2012
EventMultisensor, Multisource Information Fusion: Architectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2012 - Baltimore, MD, United States
Duration: Apr 25 2012Apr 26 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherMultisensor, Multisource Information Fusion: Architectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBaltimore, MD


  • Biologically-inspired
  • Localization
  • Navigation
  • Robotics
  • SLAM
  • Spatial cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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