Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineers unlock secrets of beetle flight

Date:
April 10, 2012
Source:
Drexel University
Summary:
Mechanical engineers are using remote-controlled rhinoceros beetles to study the mechanics behind their ability to fly. Research findings could inform the next generation of aircraft design.

Rhinoceros beetles could play a big part in the next generation of aircraft design with the help of researchers.
Credit: Image courtesy of Drexel University

Rhinoceros beetles could play a big part in the next generation of aircraft design with the help of researchers in Drexel University's Mechanical Engineering Department. Dr. MinJun Kim is leading a team of engineers in National Science Foundation-funded research that examines the function and aerodynamics of the Allomyrina dichotoma beetle in collaboration with Konkuk University in South Korea.

Related Articles


Kim's research aims to study the movements of a beetle's wing by controlling its motion remotely via four tiny electrodes implanted in its body. The team then films the flight of the beetle from take-off to landing while electrical currents direct the extension, contraction, direction and flapping frequency of the wings. The use of a wind tunnel allows the researchers to see how air currents move around the wings they flap during flight.

"A quantitative investigation of aerodynamics and wing kinematics in beetle flight will shed new light on the evolution of flapping flight in nature," Kim said. "Furthermore, experimental study of the aerodynamic performance of beetles in forward/hovering flight will provide insight into designs for efficient and stable flapping-wing micro aerial vehicles.

In the rhinoceros beetle, which is indigenous to South Korea and can be brought to the United States for research purposes under special approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kim's team has found what could be the perfect candidate for the controlled study of biological flight capabilities.

The beetle's size, 7-9 centimeters as an adult, is large enough to allow engineers to implant electrodes, in both optic lobes, the central nervous system and abdomen, without harming it. It is also a powerful flying creature for its size, having the ability to take flight directly from the ground -- which is rare among smaller insects.

"Use of biologically-inspired approaches in the aerospace engineering community, motivated by an interest in micro aerial vehicles, has been increasing rapidly," Kim said. "Although microfabrication techniques are advancing, it remains a challenge to fabricate separate individual machinery parts and develop millimeter-scale battery systems for aerodynamic maneuverability. An alternative approach is to directly utilize the insect itself. They are easily 'manufactured,' and -by nature- self-contained and easy to fuel."

Kim, who is an associate professor of mechanical engineering, focuses his research on fluid mechanics at low Reynolds numbers. He also examines natural biological transport phenomenon and single molecule biophysics.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Drexel University. "Engineers unlock secrets of beetle flight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120410163531.htm>.
Drexel University. (2012, April 10). Engineers unlock secrets of beetle flight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120410163531.htm
Drexel University. "Engineers unlock secrets of beetle flight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120410163531.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) Imagine an elevator without cables. ThyssenKrupp has drafted an elevator concept that would cruise on linear magnetic motors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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