Flies compensate for unilateral wing damage through modular adjustments of wing and body kinematics

Florian T. Muijres*, Nicole A. Iwasaki, Michael J. Elzinga, Johan M. Melis, Michael H. Dickinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Using high-speed videography,we investigated howfruit flies compensate for unilateral wing damage, in which loss of area on one wing compromises both weight support and roll torque equilibrium. Our results showthat flies control for unilateral damage by rolling their body towards the damaged wing and by adjusting the kinematics of both the intact and damaged wings. To compensate for the reduction in vertical lift force due to damage, flies elevate wingbeat frequency. Because this rise in frequency increases the flapping velocity of both wings, it has the undesired consequence of further increasing roll torque. To compensate for this effect, flies increase the stroke amplitude and advance the timing of pronation and supination of the damaged wing, while making the opposite adjustments on the intact wing. The resulting increase in force on the damaged wing and decrease in force on the intact wing function to maintain zero net roll torque. However, the bilaterally asymmetrical pattern of wing motion generates a finite lateral force, which flies balance by maintaining a constant body roll angle. Based on these results and additional experiments using a dynamically scaled robotic fly,we propose a simple bioinspired control algorithm for asymmetric wing damage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160103
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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