Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Air Force flight control improvements

Date:
December 7, 2010
Source:
Air Force Office of Scientific Research
Summary:
Flying insects' altitude control mechanisms are the focus of new research that may lead to technology that controls altitude in a variety of aircraft for the Air Force.

Virtual reality tunnel for fruit flies allows simultaneous tracking of freely flying flies and computer projected imagery on the walls and floor of the arena.
Credit: Credit: Dr. Andrew Straw, Caltech

Flying insects' altitude control mechanisms are the focus of research being conducted in a Caltech laboratory under an Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant that may lead to technology that controls altitude in a variety of aircraft for the Air Force.

"This work investigates sensory-motor feedback mechanisms in the insect brain that could inspire new approaches to flight stabilization and navigation in future insect-sized vehicles for the military," said Dr. Willard Larkin, AFOSR program manager who's supporting the work of lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Straw of Caltech.

The research is being conducted in a laboratory where scientists are studying how flies use visual information to guide flight in natural environments.

The scientists have found that, counter to earlier studies suggesting that insects adjust their height by measuring the motion beneath them as they fly, flies in fact follow horizontal edges of objects to regulate altitude. Remarkably, this edge following behavior is very similar to a rule they use for steering left and right and always turning towards vertical edges.

Straw noted that the flies don't have access to GPS or other radio signals that may also be unavailable in, for example, indoor environments.

"However, with a tiny brain they are able to perform a variety of tasks such as finding food and mates despite changing light levels, wind gusts, wing damage, and so on," he said. "Flies rely heavily on vision."

The scientists designed a virtual reality environment for their flying subjects which they found could regulate their altitude by enabling them to fly at the height of nearby horizontal visual, like the tops of rocks and vegetation.

"We developed a 3D fly tracking system which was our most significant technical challenge: localizing a fly in 3D nearly instantaneously," said Straw. "Next, we developed visual stimulus software capable of making use of this information to project virtual edges and textured floors in which we could modify the fly's sensory-motor feedback mechanism."

The 3D fly tracking system the researchers developed is significant because it will allow a rapid characterization of other fly behaviors with unprecedented levels of visual stimulus control.

Ultimately the scientists would like to build models of fly flight that can accurately predict behavior based on their sensory input and internal states.

"Additionally, being able to identify the neural circuits responsible for flight control would allow us to extend our understanding of how physiological processes implement behavior," said Straw.

In their next phase, the scientists will study more sophisticated flight behaviors, asking if the the fly creates a long-lasting neural representation of its visual surroundings or whether flight is only controlled by fast-acting reflexes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Air Force Office of Scientific Research. "Air Force flight control improvements." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207190411.htm>.
Air Force Office of Scientific Research. (2010, December 7). Air Force flight control improvements. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207190411.htm
Air Force Office of Scientific Research. "Air Force flight control improvements." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101207190411.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
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