Thursday, 20 May, 2010 Technology

Japanese Researchers Test Robotic Butterfly


Researchers from Harvard University and University of Tokyo managed to invent a tiny robotic butterfly that would help them figure out the biomechanics of butterfly flight.

However, according to Robert Dudley, a physiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-author of the study, mentioned that though the technical achievement is quite impressive, a small robot may not provide a lot of information on how butterflies row through the air in real life, being unable to teach us about different aerodynamic and biological features.

The flight of a butterfly is very different from the one of a crow, for example. These creatures fly about instead of flying in a straight line, which makes them an interesting research subject. Butterflies show an anti-predator behavior, says Dudley. When predators look at the somewhat chaotic flight of a butterfly they decide to look for other, easier targets.

Using their plastic-wings robotic butterfly, Hiroto Tanaka and Isao Shimoyama, the two engineers, managed to capture the oscillating type of flight. However, the behavior of a real butterfly and its robotic replica still remain very different, which means that the tony robot can offer very little or no information on the biological aspects of a real butterfly.

You can find more information here.

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