Project H: Landmark Usage

Integration of sensory information in a joint spatial representation: investigation of human behavior in virtual worlds

Hanspeter Mallot, Heinrich Bülthoff

Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics , Tübingen

Duration: 1996 - 1998

Project homepage:

Getting around in space is a behavioral competence which is crucial for autonomous robots, animals, and humans. Obstacle avoidance and course control are relatively simple tasks that do not require a memory of space. Spatio-temporal maneuvers such as docking to a larger object, systematic search, or path integration require some type of working memory. Navigation in a strict sense involves a goal which must be recognized when it is reached. The information used to recognize the goal forms a kind of longterm memory. By storing information not just on the goal itself but also on the visual panorama as it appears from the goal position, image-based mechanisms can be devised that allow the approach of a goal from a larger catchment area.

Finding ways in environments composed of several "chambers" or otherwise visually isolated parts is the most challenging part of navigation. Direction or recognition triggered response associates actions such as turns or new goal specifications with a recognized landmark configuration or intermediate goal. Chains of such steps implement a route to a distant goal. Finally, cognitive behavior is characterized by goal dependent flexibility.

Currently, three projects are devoted to spatial cognition:

Approaches: empirical investigation; modeling; implementation; simulation
Areas of Research: psychophysics; cognitive psychology; cognitive science; cognitive robotics
Topics: cognitive maps; memory; navigation; interaction with the environment; virtual reality

Project publications

Publications of project cooperations:

D - Route Learning
F - Robot Navigation
O - Reference Systems

mail us your comments or remarks last updated: March 2003