The Honeybee Brain with Dr. Andrew Barron and Dr. James Marshall (podcast)

By Templeton Staff
July 19, 2021
Discoveries about the intelligence of bees are fueling advancements in AI-equipped robots and drones.

In this episode of the Stories of Impact podcast, we learn how two scientists with seemingly unconnected areas of expertise collaborate to apply discoveries about the intelligence of honeybees to the advancement of machine learning and AI-equipped robots.

Dr. Andrew Barron, a cognitive neuroethologist, and his colleague, Dr. James Marshall, who studies theoretical computation, use insights they’ve gleaned from modeling the bee brain to address current challenges in autonomous robotics, such as collision avoidance, navigation across large distances, and complex image processing. What their research shows about how bees share information, including the movement-based communication bees exhibit, might inform how artificial intelligences someday teach each other.

“Many things are impressive about the honeybee — complex learning, complex memory, complex spatial calculations and complex assessments of relationships — How can an animal with just 1 million neurons do that?”—Dr. Andrew Barron.

Discover the video version of this interview.

Learn more about TWCF-funded research projects related to this episode: here and here

Read the transcript from the interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay, presented by podcast producer Tavia Gilbert. Featuring: Dr. Andrew Barron, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroethology at Macquarie University in Sydney, specializes in the honeybee brain; Dr. James Marshall, Professor of Theoretical Computation and Biology at the University of Sheffield, studies robotics and artificial intelligence.


Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and host Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.