Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bio-inspired Flying Robot Sheds Light On Insect Piloting Abilities

Date:
February 10, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Insects and other flying animals are somehow able to maintain appropriate flying heights and execute controlled takeoffs and landings despite lacking the advantage of sophisticated instrumentation available to human aviators. By characterizing the behavior of a specially designed flying robot, researchers have now been able to test a theory that helps explain how visual cues are used by insects during flight to ensure appropriate distance from the ground.

Insects and other flying animals are somehow able to maintain appropriate flying heights and execute controlled takeoffs and landings despite lacking the advantage of sophisticated instrumentation available to human aviators. By characterizing the behavior of a specially designed flying robot, researchers have now been able to test a theory that helps explain how visual cues are used by insects during flight to ensure appropriate distance from the ground. The work, reported by Nicolas Franceschini and colleagues at France's CNRS and the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, will appear in Current Biology online on February 8th.

When insects fly, the image of the ground beneath them sweeps backward across their visual field in a way that depends both on the insect's height above the ground and on its speed relative to the ground--essentially, the higher the insect, the slower the ground will appear to move below it. This visual sweep, known as "optic flow," therefore potentially provides crucial information to the insect about its position relative to the ground, but it remains unclear exactly how such information is translated in a way that helps keep insects from crashing during flight.

In their new work, the authors hypothesized that insects rely on a visual feedback loop, termed an optic-flow regulator, to assess the ratio of groundspeed to height, and to maintain that ratio by controlling their vertical lift. To test this hypothesis, the researchers engineered a fly-by-sight micro-helicopter that incorporated control elements based on the idea of an optic-flow regulator, and found that the robot was indeed capable of achieving impressive aspects of insect flight, including takeoff, level flight, and landing.

The findings, explain the authors in their paper, help illuminate the basis for a number of previously unexplained observations regarding insect flight, including the fact that many insects descend in a headwind and ascend in a tailwind, and that honeybees often drown when flying over mirror-still water.

The researchers include Nicolas Franceschini, Franck Ruffier, and Julien Serres of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France.

This research was supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Life Science and Engineering Science) and the European Union (contract IST/FET199929043).

Franceschini et al.: "A Bio-Inspired Flying Robot Sheds Light on Insect Piloting Abilities" Publishing in Current Biology 17, February 20, 2007. http://www.current-biology.com


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Bio-inspired Flying Robot Sheds Light On Insect Piloting Abilities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070208131830.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, February 10). Bio-inspired Flying Robot Sheds Light On Insect Piloting Abilities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070208131830.htm
Cell Press. "Bio-inspired Flying Robot Sheds Light On Insect Piloting Abilities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070208131830.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins