Flight simulator equipped with fast vision flies

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the eye movement of fruit flies, which is 30 times faster than normal blinking, and based on this mechanism, they developed a circuit that mimics high-speed vision.

In the article, the researchers described the movements of fruit flies tethered to a virtual reality flight simulator built with LED lighting and recorded with high-speed cameras.

Jean-Michel Mongeau, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Bio-Motion Systems Lab, and his colleagues were able to determine how fruit flies use eye movements to quickly coordinate wing movements. Since the flies’ eyes are attached to the head, the researchers tracked head movements to determine where the flies were looking.

While much of the previous research in this area has focused on wing movements, understanding how animals like flies use active eye movements to control flight could significantly improve robotics.

Most robots nowadays have fixed sensors that are not related to detection and movement. However, better simulating the eyes and brain through the coordination of visual sensors capable of moving around the body can significantly improve the flight control of robots.

The researchers also determined that the eyes of a fruit fly can respond four times faster than the body or wings of an animal. These responses were also closely related, demonstrating that flies rely heavily on eye movements to coordinate their wing movements.

The researchers note that many ingenious technologies have already been created in nature, they just need to be found and used, as they did with flies.