Wind gust mitigation in bumblebees and blowflies

State-of-the-art drones have difficulty flying outdoors or in natural environments due to the presence of wind gusts. But, insects navigate through complex environments in the presence of wind gusts very easily.

The aim of this project is to study and understand the gust rejection capabilities of insects. We aim to reach this goal by exposing insects (bumblebees and blowflies) to known wind gusts and record their response through high-speed videography. This will provide innovative insights into interaction of different sensory systems and their control architecture involved in gust mitigation.

This research is done in collaboration with MAVlab at TU Delft where another PhD candidate focusses on the development of a drone. At the end of this joint venture, researchers hope to have developed a prototype of a wing actuated, tailless flapping-wing drone that is controlled by insect-inspired algorithms and capable of good manoeuvre characteristics in gusty environments.

This position is funded by NWO-TTW and is performed in consultation with PATS BV, WUR Institute (Plants Research International), Ruijsinck Dynamic Engineering, WUR Business unit (Greenhouse horticulture) and Dutch Police.