FLIGHT MECHANICS OF LANDING MANEUVERS IN BLUEBOTTLE FLIES

Open Access
Author:
Wang, XingYu
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Bo Cheng, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sean Brennan, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Flight Mechanics
  • Bluebottle Flies
  • Kinematics of Landing Maneuver
  • Ceiling Landing
Abstract:
Landing maneuvers on an inverted horizontal surface (or a ceiling) is arguably one of the most difficult aerial maneuvers in flying insects, but received relatively little study. Gaining a better understanding of these highly adaptive and complex maneuvers is of keen interest to both biology and engineering communities regarding the aerodynamics, sensing, and flight control used in small biological fliers. Herein, this project aims to understand the mechanics and control of landing maneuvers in bluebottle flies (Calliphora vomitoria). In the experiment, about 40 flies were introduced into a transparent chamber with a backlit ceiling made of a thin stretched plastic membrane. The landing maneuvers were recorded by triggering three high-speed cameras after startling the flies, when a number of flies attempted to land on the ceiling. Results show that flies were able to land on the ceiling by performing rapid body rotations, most frequently about pitch axis, but sometimes also about roll and yaw axes. Flight speed, direction and body orientation prior to landing varied significantly among maneuvers, and only with a proper combination of these three parameters were the flies able to land successfully. Flies’ visual stimulations also play an important role in determining whether the maneuvers are smooth landing or hovering under the ceiling. Additionally, landing maneuvers with body rotations in pitch axis were characterized by large pitch angular velocities in the body kinematics that reach maximum before the moment of touch down, and the roll landings were characterized by large angular velocities in roll direction. Finally, files were able to change their wing beat kinematics substantially during different types of landing maneuvers. The wing kinematics in pitch and roll landings shows unique traits compared to the wing kinematics before the initiation of landing maneuvers.