Tennessee's synchronous fireflies may hold key to future tech

A researcher studies fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The famed synchronized fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains may hold the key to developing semi-autonomous robotic technology. A group of computer scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder are presently in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to study this unique phenomenon to see if the abilities given to fireflies by nature can be replicated in technology. There is a new developing scientific field that is combining computer science, physics, engineering, and biology with researchers using LED lights, butterfly nets, video cameras, and laptops to study the insects. By understanding how and why the fireflies synch up, researchers than can start to figure out ways to apply that to other scientific fields, such as robotics and engineering.