Injured fruit flies use corrective movements to maintain stability: Research

In a recent research study it was found that fruit flies can quickly compensate for severe wing injuries while maintaining the same stability after losing up to 40 percent of the wing. This knowledge can inform the design of versatile robots, which face the same challenge of quickly changing hazards in the field.

The Penn State team published their results in Science Advances. To run the experiment, the researchers changed the wing length of trained fruit flies, simulating an injury that flying insects can sustain. Then they release the bees into the true ring. Mimicking what the bees see while flying, the researchers played video clips on the ring’s small screens, making the bees move as if they were flying.

“We found flies that compensate for their injuries by closing the damaged wing while reducing the speed of the healthy one,” said Jean-Michel Mongeau, the historian of the state of Penn State for Engineering Technology. “They achieve this by changing the signals in their nervous system, allowing them to better adjust their flight after an injury,” he added.

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By holding their wings tighter, fruit flies change their behavior — only slightly lower — to maintain stability by increasing humidity. “If you drive on a paved road, the friction between the tires and the surface is maintained, and the car is stable,” says Mongeau, comparing it to friction damping.

“But on a snowy road, there is less friction between the road and the cars, which tries to increase the grip. Bo Cheng, co-author with Penn State’s Kenneth K .and Olivia J. Kuo Early Career Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering found that stability is more important than power for flight performance.

“Under damage, performance and stability are more normal; however, flies use an ‘internal knob’ to increase damping to maintain the desired stability, even if leading as production declines,” Cheng said, adding, “In fact, it has been shown that it is the firmness, rather than the required power, that limits the production of flies. .” The work of the researchers shows that fruit flies, with only 200,000 neurons compared to 100 billion in humans, use a simple motor control system, they can adapt and survive after an injury .

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“The complexity that we see here in flies is not that of existing technological systems; flight is much more complex than existing flying robots,” Mongeau said. . “We’re still very far on the engineering side of trying to replicate what we see in nature, and this is another example of how far we’ve come,” he said.

With complex environments, engineers are challenged to design robots that can quickly adapt to mistakes or accidents. “Flyers can inspire the design of flapping robots and drones that can intelligently respond to physical danger and maintain operations,” said lead author Wael Salem, the Penn State doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, adding, “For example, designing a drone is possible. to punish a broken car in flight or a legged robot that relies on its legs it’s different when someone gives.”

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To study how flies compensate for wing damage in flight, colleagues at the University of Colorado Boulder created a robotic prototype of a mechanical wing, nearly the same size and activity of fruit fly. The researchers cut the mechanical wing, applied it to the Penn State experiments, and tested the connection between the wings and the atmosphere.

“With only a mathematical model, we had to make some simple assumptions about the shape of the wing, the movement of the wing and the interaction of the wing to make our calculations,” said Kaushik Jayaram, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. at the University of Colorado Boulder. He added, “But with a physical model, our robot prototype interacts with the natural world like flying, under the laws of physics. It’s very clear.” (NOW)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is produced from a syndicated feed.)

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