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January 30, 2017updated 22 Feb 2017 4:47pm

Smart cars and penguins: more alike than you’d think

As software in cars become more complex, new ways to manage code have to be utilised. Could hungry penguins hold the answers?

By Joe Clark

Penguins could prove vital in the search for more stable smart cars, researchers say.

A study into how the birds hunt efficiently en-masse could be used to prevent increasingly more complex smart car software from crashing.

As penguins live in large colonies they have evolved to ensure there is nearly always enough food for each bird, which is largely due to how they organise themselves and interact with one another.

The decision to map penguins is not as bizarre as it seems, scientists routinely examine nature in an effort to optimise scientific advancements. Robotics experts have been known to look at the way in which animals move and copy that movement, and ants have been analysed for the way in which they transmit data colony-wide by telecoms researchers.

Smart Cars

Prof Yiannis Papadopoulos, computer scientist at the University of Hull told the BBC: “Penguins are social birds and we know they live in colonies that are often very large and can include hundreds of thousands of birds. This raises the question of how can they sustain this kind of big society given that together they need a vast amount of food.”

“There must be something special about their hunting strategy,”

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The way penguins routinely have to change their hunting strategies depending on location and availability of food could help to optimise code in cars to ensure the correct solution for traffic problems and other situations is found as quickly as possible.

The need for a more efficient system comes as an increasing number of  companies see smart cars as the next step in motor vehicles.

Global director of critical systems security at Synopsys, Mike Ahmadi, said: “There’s about a million lines of code in the average car today and there’s far more in connected cars.”

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