University of Queensland researchers are developing a flying robot based on the honeybee.
The honeybee is a fuel-efficient flyer that uses its eyes, antennae, and abdomen to direct itself and to fly using as little energy as possible. "The bees are living proof that it's possible to engineer airborne vehicles that are agile, navigationally competent, weigh less than 100 milligrams, and can fly around the world using the energy given by an ounce of honey," says Queensland professor Mandyam Srinivasan. "Honeybees often have to travel very long distances with only a small amount of nectar, so they have to be as fuel-efficient as possible."
Honeybees use vision to judge their air speed and then move their abdomens to make their bodies more fuel-efficient. The honeybee also uses its antenna to judge the speed of the air flowing past its body. "A better understanding of how honeybees fly takes us one step further towards perfecting the flying machines," Srinivasan says.
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