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Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed

Date:
May 20, 2010
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
A group of Japanese researchers have succeeded in building a fully functional replica model -- an ornithopter -- of a swallowtail butterfly, and they have filmed their model butterfly flying.

Screenshot of video showing Japanese researchers demonstrating the forward flying motion of the swallowtail butterfly through their artificial ornithopter.
Credit: Courtesy of Institute of Physics

A group of Japanese researchers, who are publishing their findings IOP Publishing's Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, have succeeded n building a fully functional replica model -- an ornithopter -- of a swallowtail butterfly, and they have filmed their model butterfly flying.

Among the various types of butterflies, swallowtails are unique in that their wing area is very large relative to their body mass. This combined with their overlapping fore wings means that their flapping frequency is comparatively low and their general wing motion severely restricted.

As a result, swallowtails' ability to actively control the aerodynamic force of their wings is limited and their body motion is a passive reaction to the simple flapping motion, and not -- as common in other types of butterfly -- an active reaction to aerodynamics.

To prove that the swallowtail achieves forward flight with simple flapping motions, the researchers built a lifelike ornithopter in the same dimensions as the butterfly, copying the swallowtail's distinct wing shape and the thin membranes and veins that cover its wings.

Using motion analysis software, the researchers were able to monitor the ornithopter's aerodynamic performance, showing that flight can be realised with simple flapping motions without feedback control, a model which can be applied to future aerodynamic systems.

You can watch the video about the research on IOP's YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcm4s1af56Q


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Hiroto Tanaka and Isao Shimoyama. Forward flight of swallowtail butterfly with simple flapping motion. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2010; 5: 026003 [link]

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519205506.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2010, May 20). Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519205506.htm
Institute of Physics. "Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519205506.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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