Bug Blog

Using Insects As Inspiration For Engineering Strange Machines

For the past ten years or so we have all been hearing about drones from the news. Drones, as you already know, are unmanned flying vehicles that are deployed by the military in order to gather intelligence, or drop bombs behind enemy lines. However, the United States Air Force is facing a big problem as so many drone pilots, as you could rightly guess, crash their drones often. As a result of watching new recruits destroy multi-million dollar military technology, the Air Force want to focus on ways to salvage a busted drone before discarding it. Well if you wanted to build a more durable flying device where would you look? The answer is “insects,” of course. Insects are able to not only survive, but they will often continue flying even after hitting a wall or a super-hot light bulb. Now researchers are studying the clumsy flying behavior demonstrated by just about every type of flying bug. So a group of scientists are literally sitting around a room watching flies circle their heads.

A team of researchers working on a new drone design cannot keep their eyes off of the many bugs flying around. The researchers are currently obsessed with the flying insects because they possess a unique exoskeleton. A flying insects exoskeleton remains rigid enough for flight, but it is also flexible enough to absorb the energy upon impact.

So far, the researchers running the study believe that an insect’s wings are the most valuable to an engineer working on the next generation drone. An insect’s wings are unique in that they can alternate between a stiff state and a bendable state. Although the researchers don’t have a full understanding of the physics behind insect flight, they seem sure that their wings are their key to avoiding brutal bodily damage upon hitting an object at high speed and in mid-air.

Do you know of any other devices that were designed by engineers who had bugs on the mind?