A joint effort between University of Washington (Seattle, WA) and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) researchers has revealed gyroscope-like structures in tobacco horn moth antennae that could lead to mechanical equivalents for miniature flying robots. The discovery allows the researchers to understand neural properties employing methods typically used to analyze electronic circuits, and the work also could be adapted in the development of robotic insects to test the understanding of flight itself.

“We are really good at building gyros for a 747 airplane, but if we want to make autonomous flying machines the size of a bird or smaller, we will need to engineer a version of the vibrating antennae. This information has the potential to help us design gyro-like stabilization capabilities for a small flying robot,” said Case biologist Mark Willis, who worked on the project.

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