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Zoology / engineering science fair project:
Mimicking fruit fly response patterns for threat evasion of airborne machines

Science Fair Project Information
Title: Mimicking fruit fly response patterns for threat evasion of airborne machines
Subject: Zoology / Engineering
Subcategory: Biomimetics (imitation of the systems of nature for the purpose of solving complex engineering problems)
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Building / Engineering
Cost: Medium
Awards: First place 13-14 age group
Affiliation: Google Science Fair
Year: 2014
Materials: 2 infrared distance sensors, Crazyflie quadrotor
Techniques: , Python programming language, Matlab
Concepts: Biomimetics
Description: Based on the dynamic, unstructured, and unknown nature of the environments in which both flying robots and flying organisms must operate, a novel biologically-inspired approach was used to create a simpler, faster, and more practical method of onboard threat evasion in a flying robot. Thus, a computationally and physically lightweight sensor module inspired by the fruit fly's rudimentary visual system, combined with algorithms to escape from approaching threats by mimicking fruit fly escape behaviors, was used to demonstrate a simpler, faster, and more practical method of onboard threat evasion in a quadrotor (a quadcopter - a multirotor helicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors).
Link: https://www.googlesciencefair.com/projects/en/2014/6d18
Short Background

Flying Biomimetics

Leonardo da Vinci's design for a flying machine with wings based closely upon the structure of bat wings

Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex engineering problems. A closely related field is bionics.

Living organisms have evolved well-adapted structures and materials over geological time through natural selection. Biomimetics has given rise to new technologies inspired by biological solutions at macro and nanoscales. Humans have looked at nature for answers to problems throughout our existence. Nature has solved engineering problems such as self-healing abilities, environmental exposure tolerance and resistance, hydrophobicity, self-assembly, and harnessing solar energy.

The light refracting properties of butterfly wings are harnessed to provide improved digital displays and everlasting colour.

One of the early examples of biomimicry was the study of birds to enable human flight. Although never successful in creating a "flying machine", Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a keen observer of the anatomy and flight of birds, and made numerous notes and sketches on his observations as well as sketches of "flying machines". The Wright Brothers, who succeeded in flying the first heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903, derived inspiration from observations of pigeons in flight.

Morpho butterfly wings contain microstructures that create its coloring effect through structural coloration rather than pigmentation. Incident light waves are reflected at specific wavelengths to create vibrant colors due to multilayer interference, diffraction, thin film interference, and scattering properties. The scales of these butterflies consist of microstructures such as ridges, cross-ribs, ridge-lamellae, and microribs that have been shown to be responsible for coloration. The structural color has been simply explained as the interference due to alternating layers of cuticle and air using a model of multilayer interference. The same principles behind the coloration of soap bubbles apply to butterfly wings. The color of butterfly wings is due to multiple instances of constructive interference from structures such as this. The photonic microstructure of butterfly wings can be replicated through biomorphic mineralization to yield similar properties. The photonic microstructures can be replicated using metal oxides or metal alkoxides such as titanium sulfate (TiSO4), zirconium oxide (ZrO2), and aluminium oxide (Al2O3). An alternative method of vapor-phase oxidation of SiH4 on the template surface was found to preserve delicate structural features of the microstructure.

See also:

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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Last updated: August 2014
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