Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

Imaging Hangar in the VCC

Researchers can now apply for experimental time in the Imaging Hangar or its prototype, the Imaging Barn, by filling out the survey provided. Don't miss this opportunity to unlock the secrets of collective behaviour.

What is the Imaging Hangar?

The Imaging Hangar is a core facility of the Cluster for the Advanced Study of Collective Behavior. This state-of-the-art motion capture facility is designed for the study of all kinds of animal, human and robotic collectives. The facility of 1,900 observable cubic meters is designed to be a flexible and adaptive space, meaning that it will never be "finished" in the traditional sense, as new technologies and research needs will continue to shape its design and capabilities. However, after three years of planning and construction, the first build stage is finally read, and the facility is now operational for all kinds of experiments.

Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

The Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg in January 2023 even visited the facility to see its innovative technologies and capabilities. He was impressed by the ability of the Imaging Hangar to study not only animal collectives, but also human and robotic collectives, which opens up a whole new realm of research possibilities.

The Imaging Hangar is equipped with the latest motion capture and markerless tracking technologies, making it one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world. This allows researchers to study the three dimensional collective behavior of animals, humans and robots in unprecedented detail, providing new insights into the dynamics of collective systems.

The first experiments with 2000 locusts were very promising, and the results have already provided valuable new insights into the behavior of these insects. The next project, planned for March 2023, will involve the study of a swarm of 10,000 locusts, which will provide an even deeper understanding of these collective creatures.

If you are interested in applying for experimental time in the Imaging Hangar or its prototype, the Imaging Barn, please fill in the following survey. The Imaging Hangar is open to researchers from around the world, and the CASCB is looking forward to welcoming new scientists to the facility.

Overall, the Imaging Hangar is a cutting-edge facility that promises to revolutionise our understanding of collective behavior. With its advanced technology, flexible design and expert team of researchers, the Imaging Hangar is sure to make a significant impact on the field of collective behavior research, for animals, humans and robots alike.

Experiments in the Imaging Hangar

Roborace, Copyright: Lena Dreher, CASCB

Despite decades of advancements in robotics, the capabilities of biological systems remain an elusive performance target. One of the difficulties is that we do not fully understand the mechanisms in biological systems. In a semester course, Liang Li aimed to explain both bio-inspired robotics and how to use these robots to understand biological systems. In the final exam, students had to trace the CASCB name with a robocar they had programmed themselves. The CASCB community was invited to join the event, which took place in the Imaging Hangar.

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Set up of the experiment, Copyright: E. Böker, CASCB

In the Imaging Hangar a colony of leaf-cutting ants established a semi-natural, long foraging trail of 30 m. Christoph Kleineidam and his team aimed to study the optimization of trails (ant-routing and obstacle removal) and the optimization of leaf intake to the nest.

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In November 2022 Luke Costello, Mark Bugden, and Vishwanath Varma were running a pilot experiment on locust swarms. Normally locusts are studied in the lab in small groups of up to 200 animals in small arenas despite swarming in groups of millions of individuals in the wild. Here they were looking to explore the role that scale plays in observed behavior of locust swarms in lab settings by increasing the size of the arena and number of individuals. In the current experiment they were using roughly 2000 locusts in a 2m diameter arena with the goal of scaling up to roughly 10000 locusts in a 5m diameter arena.

Imaging Hangar Technician

For more information on the Imaging Hangar, or to inquire about research there, please contact Mathias Guenther