The robber fly is an aerodynamic acrobat that may catch its prey in midflight

A miniature predatory robber fly (<em>Holcocephala fascia</em>) feeds on a captured rove beetle. A new study reveals that the fly approaches its prey from underneath, aiming for a future meeting point with the target.

Enlarge / A miniature predatory robber fly (Holcocephala fascia) feeds on a captured rove beetle. A brand new examine reveals that the fly approaches its prey from beneath, aiming for a future assembly level with the goal. (credit score: Samuel Fabian)

Robber flies are aerodynamic acrobats, in a position to spot their prey, dodge round obstacles, and seize smaller bugs at excessive speeds in midflight. Scientists have taken a more in-depth have a look at how robber flies handle this superb feat regardless of having brains the scale of a single grain of sand. In line with a brand new paper printed within the Journal of Experimental Biology, the flies mix two distinct feedback-based navigation methods: one which entails intercepting the prey when the view is obvious, and one other that enables the flies to swerve round any obstacles of their flight path.

One of many challenges in robotics is design robots that may navigate cluttered environments—one thing people and different animals handle to do instinctively daily. Per the authors, many robotic methods depend on a form of path-planning: utilizing sound (sonar) or lasers to ship out alerts after which detecting the reflections. That information can then be used to construct a distance map of the environment.

However in comparison with utilizing easy visible cues (i.e., “reactive strategies”), path-planning is a pricey method by way of vitality use. People and different animals do not require elaborate maps or particular data a couple of goal’s location, pace, and different particulars. We merely react to any related stimuli in our surroundings in actual time. Devising navigational behavioral algorithms based mostly on organic methods is thus of nice curiosity to roboticists.

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