The French engineers have created a tool that allows you to take a free flight insects up close. According to the principle of it is similar to the camera of the spider used in the stadiums: frame with cameras fixed on cables, allowing you to freely move it in any direction within the working area. In a new installation algorithms to quickly track the trajectory of the insect inside the frame and move it to the insect remains inside. This allows you to explore the flight characteristics of certain types without restricting their movement, which allows to obtain data as close to the behavior in the natural environment, tell the authors of the article in Science is Robotics.
To study insect flight is pretty hard because of their size. Usually, this is done using two approaches: with mechanical lock or insect in free flight. The first method allows you to remove the insect as close as possible, with good resolution. But the resulting data are valuable not all of the studies, because of the fixation, for example, using threads, restricts movement and does not allow to completely reproduce natural movement. Free flight to shoot harder, usually use either a wind tunnel or totally free flight near the flower. The first method restricts the range of possible movements, and the second is suitable only for certain species.
Engineers under the leadership of Dominique Martinez (Dominique Martinez) from the University of Lorraine has created a system that allows you to shoot flying insects in close proximity, while not restricting their movement, and not specific types with specific behavior, for example, collecting nectar from the flowers.
By design, the system reminds the chamber of the spider, which is often used in stadiums for shooting. It is suspended on cables over the edge of the stadium and through the winding and unwinding of the cables is certain she can move and hover in the air at almost any point over the field, giving a good view for broadcast. The new system is much smaller: the outer frame has dimensions of 6 × 4 × 3 meters, but inside her the ropes, is assigned to winches in the corners of the frame, suspended cube has edges of length 30 centimeters.