Data Science

Image of the Week Fruit Fly Art 061517

  • Published15 Jun 2017

  • Reviewed15 Jun 2017

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 fruit fly path thumbnail

Sawyer Buckminster Fuller, Harvard University

What at first glance might look like a Jackson Pollock painting is actually a recording of the flight paths of fruit flies inside a 30-cm-wide wind tunnel. Each color represents a different fly and the widths of the lines are scaled to the speed of flight — the wider lines and larger dots represent times when the flies are moving more slowly. The positions marked by stars indicate times when flies were subjected to brief gusts of wind. The data collected reveal how fruit flies use their eyes and wind-sensing antennae to regulate their flight and can be used to inspire the design of flight control in robots, using wind sensors and cameras to stabilize flight in gusty winds.

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Sawyer Buckminster Fuller, Harvard University

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