The Mysteries Of Insect Flight Are Being Explored By Winged Robots

Nobody is a stranger to the challenge of successfully swatting a fly. We all know from experience how effectively insects maneuver themselves during flight. You may find it surprising to learn that scientists consider flying insect movements to be a topic worth researching. However, there is no easy way of going about research into how flying insects make such swiftly evasive movements. Scientists have long held many theories concerning the movements of flying insects, but there is no reliable way of monitoring individual or collective insect maneuvers. This may soon change, as researchers have recently created a flying robot that can mimic the complicated movements of flying insects.

A researcher from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has created an aerial robot that can be programmed to replicate the specific acrobatic movements acted out by some flying insects. This amazing feat of robotic technology uses mechanical wings in order to fly at 25 kilometers per hour while performing aerial somersaults and other rapid movements in any direction. At the moment, researchers are finding that the robot is most useful for revealing secrets about the rapid movements demonstrated by fruit flies.

It has been theorized that fruit flies don’t necessarily orient themselves in particular directions; instead, the insects simply lean toward a particular angle in order to redirect their movements. The latest experiments using the new flying robot seem to confirm this theory. Researchers programmed the flying bot to roll or pitch their bodies during mid flight as opposed to physically turning their bodies. When this occurred, the bots changed their direction in a manner identical to fruit flies. This new bot can potentially reveal the secrets behind other flying insect movements and several small birds, such as hummingbirds. Aside from its usefulness as a model for understanding aerial insect movement, the flying robot can be used in search and rescue operations, as it can be programmed to perform the swift movements necessary for navigating through the tiny spaces within collapsed debris.

Do you believe that a more thorough understanding of aerial insect movements can lead to advances in aircraft engineering?



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