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Flying like a fly

Fly_4 Have you ever thought about how houseflies... fly? Most of us probably don't. When that annoying, filthy pest is buzzing around your kitchen, the more pressing question is, "Where's the flyswatter?"

Leave it to some clever engineers to think about what we could actually learn from the flight patterns of the housefly. There's its speed... up to 50 km per hour. Its acceleration ability... 3 g's, or 3 times the force of the earth's gravity -- equivalent to what the astronauts feel when the space shuttle takes off. And the fact that it can fly straight up, down or backward, and can somersault to land upside down on a ceiling.

Here's what they hope to accomplish:

The researchers are taking the lessons they learn from Musca domestica to try to build something called a micro air vehicle, or MAV, a tiny flapping-wing tobot that could be used for military reconnaissance, disaster rescue efforts, or other kinds of work requiring remote sensing.

And here's a firsthand description of the research from the gentleman in the United Kingdom who's spearheading it. It's fascinating to read about the possible military uses he envisions:

A soldier mired in combat could take a few MAVs from his backpack and throw them into the air to scout the interiors of nearby buildings. Equipped with video cameras, the tiny flyers could surreptitiously locate hidden adversaries, downed comrades, or scared civilians. MAVs could find equal application in bomb detection and bomb deployment -- the US Air Force, for one, is interested in using MAVs for precisely delivering tiny bombs, to take out, say, a single computer.


November 16, 2005 in Flies | Permalink


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