Apparently mosquitoes have some special skill set that enables them to fly in the dark without bumping into objects. Researchers have now found out how these pesky insects are able to do this and you used that knowledge to build a sensor that may keep helicopters safe one day. Watch this short video of a mosquito-inspired drone that lights up to avoid crashing into obstacles such as walls.
The team of researchers focussed on the organ that only some insects have. Shaped like an upside-down umbrella, the organ contains an array of about 12,000 cells that are arranged in a circle around the base of each antenna. It can detect the slightest movement in the antenna. The researchers observed and recorded the Culex quinquefasciatus, a mosquito that transmits Zika and West Nile viruses, is as it flew at varying distances from the ground and a wall.
The researchers studied the thousands of detailed images to find out how the air moves off the insect’s long and slender wings and how that airflow changes as the mosquito flies closer to a surface. You can see how this works in the video below.
Mosquito-inspired drone avoids obstacles when it’s dark
According to an article in Science, a team of scientists then used a computer simulation to analyze the airflow that is generated by the wings in a downward draft. The dress gets disrupted as the insect moves closer to the surface. As the air bounces back from the surface it affects how the air moves around the antenna warning the mosquito of a potential collision.
The team then installed a similar sensor on a very small drone and also mounted indicator lights that light up when the sensor detects a surface. The result is the mosquito-inspired drone that is able to detect surfaces all on its own even in the dark. The sensor is very energy-efficient and lightweight, weighing only about 9.2 g. This technology could help drones and other flying aircraft when delivering packages or completing inspections of transmission towers or bridges. Furthermore, the team sees no reason why this technology would not work on a full-size helicopter as well.
What do you think about new drone technology like this? Let us know in the comments below.