Nature – inexhaustible source of unique engineering solutions, what once again proved an international group of scientists, led by Professor Richard Bompe from the Royal veterinary College in London. They studied the mechanism of touch of the males of the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus, which helped them to recreate the ability of an insect to detect obstacles with the help of air flow.
Researchers primarily interested in how these insects Orient themselves in pitch darkness. As it turned out, this is possible thanks to the so-called mechanochemically – the ability to detect obstacles without the participation of the organs of vision. In contrast, bats using echolocation, the biological, mosquito “radar” consists of wings, creating air flow, and sensitive antennae receptors.
Mosquitoes in flight flap their wings with great frequency (to 1000 Hz), creating air flow. In the collision of flows with obstacles their configuration changes, then record number of receptors – organs Johnston. This gives the insect an opportunity to build a picture of the surrounding space.
To understand how this works, scientists have made high-speed recording of the flight of a mosquito, and then analyzed the results using computational models of fluid dynamics. They found that Johnston’s organs are ideally located to measure changes of the flow structure, since the pressure differences were greatest over the head of a mosquito, and best of all mosquitoes “worked” at low altitude.
The results of the research became the basis for the creation of a miniature sensor device, which the researchers have equipped a small quadcopter. In the process of flying the drone with it, was discovered at a safe distance from obstacles and walls of the room, practically without wasting time on data processing.