Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Footage reveals how insects use their bodies to hover

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News

Super slow-motion footage of a moth in flight has revealed how the insects use their bodies to hover.

The moth moves its body by pivoting its abdomen up and down to fine-tune the effect of the forces that keep the insect airborne.

The researchers are studying insect flight to "distil the biological principles of flight control".

This, they say, will help them to accurately engineer flying robots that use these same principles.

Their insights, which show how the insects use more than just their wings as they control their flight, are published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Lead author Jonathan Dyhr from University of Washington explained that - in terms of insect models - moths provided a particularly interesting basis for miniaturised robots.

"They're larger insects, so they're in a more realistic range of flapping or flying [machines that we would be] able to put instrumentation on.

And although they're relatively big, Dr Dyhr explained, they're "incredibly good at hovering."
"A moth can really precisely control movements [and remain] in one place, because it's trying to feed from flowers," he said.

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