Flies may not seem like nature's ace pilots when they're bumping up against a closed window or getting squashed beneath a rolled-up copy of the New York Times Magazine, but a German company hopes to unravel the secrets of insect flight by tapping their brains. Literally.
The company Cognition for Technical Systems (CoTeSys) has designed a flight simulator for flies. They hope that analyzing the fly's brain while it navigates a simulated flight path will provide the data needed to design super-agile micro-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The simulator (pictured below), shows a rapid succession of flashing patterns and moving shapes that mimic objects a fly might have to navigate. Electrodes monitor the brain waves of the fly, and a computer process those brain signals into patterns understandable to those without compound eyes.
So while it still seems unlikely that Microsoft Fly Flight Simulator will end up in many Christmas stockings this winter, this may still be a significant step towards creating autonomous, insect-sized flying robots.
[via Research and Development]
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.