We describe a spatial cognition model based on the rat's brain neurophysiology as a basis for new robotic navigation architectures. The model integrates allothetic (external visual landmarks) and idiothetic (internal kinesthetic information) cues to train either rat or robot to learn a path enabling it to reach a goal from multiple starting positions. It stands in contrast to most robotic architectures based on SLAM, where a map of the environment is built to provide probabilistic localization information computed from robot odometry and landmark perception. Allothetic cues suffer in general from perceptual ambiguity when trying to distinguish between places with equivalent visual patterns, while idiothetic cues suffer from imprecise motions and limited memory recalls. We experiment with both types of cues in different maze configurations by training rats and robots to find the goal starting from a fixed location, and then testing them to reach the same target from new starting locations. We show that the robot, after having pre-explored a maze, can find a goal with improved efficiency, and is able to (1) learn the correct route to reach the goal, (2) recognize places already visited, and (3) exploit allothetic and idiothetic cues to improve on its performance. We finally contrast our biologically-inspired approach to more traditional robotic approaches and discuss current work in progress.