05/10/2012 - 12:00 - Sala Marie Curie

Flight control in fruit flies: A behavioral reverse engineering approach

Scientific sessions, PRBB CRG Conferences

Steven N. Fry

SciTrackS. Zurich, Switzerland

Engineers are increasingly looking to the extremely sophisticated neuromotor control mechanisms of flies, as these promise powerful control strategies for biomimetic robots of the future. Conversely, biologists are relying on robots, and more generally engineering techniques, for concepts and tools to further explore the biological mechanisms that lead to the amazing behavioral feats of flies, and in particular flight.

While robots and flies are complementary in terms of materials and the generation process, the physical laws governing their functions are the same. This is the reason why, for example, a dynamically scaled robotic wing can be used to measure the aerodynamic forces acting on a fly wing. Likewise, flies are faced with similar control problems as their inanimate counterparts. Applying a “behavioral reverse engineering approach” therefore offers a powerful experimental strategy to reveal functional principles at a system level.