Butterfly tactics could help in developing flying robots

Micro Air Vehicle

Every creature on the Earth possesses some unique attributes that professionals aim to see in their robots. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have stepped into designing airborne robots which can replicate the maneuvers of butterflies.

The team is aiming to develop bug-size flyers for undertaking search and rescue operations and environmental missions without putting human lives in danger. These instruments are called aerial vehicles or MAVs. By accessing high-end imaging, the scientists analyzed the wing tactics of butterflies. They came to a conclusion that alterations in moment of inertia contributes primarily to insect flight. This property is observed in ice skaters and divers as well.

“Ice skaters who want to spin faster bring their arms in close to their bodies and extend their arms out when they want to slow down. These positions change the spatial distribution of a skater’s mass and modify their moment of inertia; this in turn affects the rotation of the skater’s body. An insect may be able to do the same thing with its body and wings,” commented Tiras Lin, a Whiting School of Engineering undergraduate who has been conducting the high-speed video research.

The team found that the wings of the butterfly carry very less mass as compared to other portions of the insect’s body. Scientists believe that this investigation is crucial because it seeks to discover critical aspects of biology with respect to insect flight. Moreover, they could also resolve many complications related to bio-inspired design of MAVs.

The findings could enlighten MAV designers working on insect flight dynamics.

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