To an insect, air is as thick as oil. Michael Dickinson pursues the sticky question of how these creatures maneuver so flawlessly. The answers could spawn tiny new flying machines.
In the basement of the Valley Life Sciences Building at the University of California, Berkeley, biologist Michael Dickinson walks down a cinderblock hallway to an anonymous steel door. Beyond it lies a small, windowless room crammed with high-speed video cameras and lasers and computer cables draped as thick as cobwebs. In the center of the room is a glass tank big enough to hold a vending machine. This is Robofly.