Recovery mechanisms in the dragonfly righting reflex
Insects have evolved sophisticated reflexes to right themselves in mid-air. Their recovery mechanisms involve complex interactions among the physical senses, muscles, body, and wings, and they must obey the laws of flight. We sought to understand the key mechanisms involved in dragonfly righting reflexes and to develop physics-based models for understanding the control strategies of flight maneuvers.
Centre of mass location, flight modes, stability and dynamic modelling of gliders
Falling paper flutters and tumbles through air, whereas a paper airplane glides smoothly if its leading edge is appropriately weighted. We investigate this transformation from ‘plain paper’ to ‘paper plane’ through experiments, aerodynamic modelling and free flight simulations of thin plates with differing centre of mass (CoM) locations. Periodic modes such as fluttering, tumbling and bounding give way to steady gliding and then downward diving as the CoM is increasingly displaced towards one edge.
Full flight envelope and trim map of flapping-wing micro aerial vehicles
Controlling agile and complex air-vehicle maneuvers requires knowledge of the full flight envelope and dominant modes of motion. This paper presents a comprehensive approach for determining the full flight envelope and trim map of minimally actuated flapping-wing micro aerial vehicles that are capable of a broad range of coupled longitudinal–lateral–directional aerobatic maneuvers. By this approach, a representative set of realizable set points and trim conditions can be determined from the flight dynamic model, including asymmetric and unstable maneuvers.
A New method for computing particle collisions in Navier-Stokes flows
Particle collisions in fluids are ubiquitous, but to compute the collision dynamics in a Navier-Stokes flow remains challenging. In addition to capturing the two-way coupling between the fluid and the particles, a key difficulty is to resolve the collision dynamics mediated by the flow. The gap between particles during collision is minuscule. This introduces a small length scale which needs to be resolved simultaneously with the flow at the large scale.
Optimal wing hinge position for fast ascent in a model fly
It was thought that the wing hinge position can be tuned to stabilize an uncontrolled fly. However here, our Floquet stability analysis shows that the hinge position has a weak dependence on the flight stability. As long as the hinge position is within the fly's body length, both hovering and ascending flight are unstable. Instead, there is an optimal hinge position, , at which the ascending speed is maximized. is approximately half way between the centre of mass and the top of the body.
A tiger beetle's pursuit of prey depends on distance
Tiger beetles pursue prey by adjusting their heading according to a time-delayed proportional control law that minimizes the error angle (Haselsteiner et al 2014 J. R. Soc. Interface 11 20140216). This control law can be further interpreted in terms of mechanical actuation: to catch prey, tiger beetles exert a sideways force by biasing their tripod gait in proportion to the error angle measured half a stride earlier. The proportional gain was found to be nearly optimal in the sense that it minimizes the time to point directly toward the prey.
The effect of gravity and dimensionality on the impact of cylinders and spheres onto a wall in a viscous fluid
As a solid body approaches a wall in a viscous fluid, the flow in the gap between them is dominated by the viscous effect and can be approximated by the lubrication theory. Here we show that without gravity, a cylinder comes to rest asymptotically at a finite separation from the wall, whereas with gravity, the cylinder approaches the wall asymptotically and contact does not happen in finite time. A cylinder approaches the wall much slower compared to a sphere under matching conditions, implying that the lubrication approximates hold longer before the molecular scale sets in.
Insect Flight: From Newton's Law to Neurons
Why do animals move the way they do? Bacteria, insects, birds, and fish share with us the necessity to move so as to live. Although each organism follows its own evolutionary course, it also obeys a set of common laws. At the very least, the movement of animals, like that of planets, is governed by Newton's law: All things fall. On Earth, most things fall in air or water, and their motions are thus subject to the laws of hydrodynamics. Through trial and error, animals have found ways to interact with fluid so they can float, drift, swim, sail, glide, soar, and fly.
Predicting fruit fly's sensing rate with insect flight simulations
Without sensory feedback, flies cannot fly. Exactly how various feedback controls work in insects is a complex puzzle to solve. What do insects measure to st abilize their flight? How often and how fast must insects adjust their wings to remain stable? To gain insights into algorithms used by insects to control their dynamic instability, we develop a simulation tool to study free flight. To stabilize flight, we construct a control algorithm that modulates wing motion based on discrete measurements of the body-pitch orientation.
Tiger beetles pursue prey using a proportional control law with a delay of one half-stride
Tiger beetles are fast diurnal predators capable of chasing prey under closed-loop visual guidance. We investigated this control system using statistical analyses of high-speed digital recordings of beetles chasing a moving prey dummy in a laboratory arena. Correlation analyses reveal that the beetle uses a proportional control law in which the angular position of the prey relative to the beetle's body axis drives the beetle's angular velocity with a delay of about 28 ms. The proportionality coefficient or system gain, 12 s -1, is just below critical damping.