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Researchers Hope Fireflies Will Aid Robot Communication

fireflies in the woods at night

Male fireflies hover and flash to signal females. One researcher compared it to Morse code.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers from the University of Colorado are studying the Great Smoky Mountains' synchronous fireflies to determine whether understanding the way they communicate could help with developing robot communication.

The fireflies "need to solve complex problems while communicating in large groups, which is something computers need to do," Orit Peleg, a computer scientist from the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "So maybe there's something interesting we can learn about them and apply to man-made systems.

The coordination it takes for thousands of fireflies to flash together isn't well understood. It is thought synchronization helps this species of fireflies distinguish itself from other species with different patterns of flashes.

Peleg said the flashing is like Morse code, and the signal is probably as close to computer language as any communication among living things.

From Associated Press
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