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Aerodynamic imaging by mosquitoes inspires a surface detector for autonomous flying vehicles

Nakata, T; Phillips, N; Simões, P; Russell, I J; Cheney, J A; Walker, S M; Bomphrey, R J


T Nakata

N Phillips

P Simões

I J Russell

J A Cheney

S M Walker

R J Bomphrey


Some flying animals use active sense to perceive and avoid obstacles. Nocturnal mosquitoes exhibit a behavioral response to divert away from surfaces when vision is unavailable, indicating a short-range, mechanosensory collision avoidance mechanism. We suggest this behavior is mediated by perceiving modulations of their self-induced airflow patterns as they enter ground or wall effect. We use computational fluid dynamics simulations of low-altitude and near-wall flights, based on in vivo high-speed kinematic measurements, to quantify changes in the self-generated pressure and velocity cues at the sensitive, mechanosensory, antennae. We validated the principle that encoding aerodynamic information can enable collision avoidance using a quadcopter with a sensory system inspired by the mosquito. Such low power sensing systems have major potential for future, safer, rotorcraft control systems.


Nakata, T., Phillips, N., Simões, P., Russell, I. J., Cheney, J. A., Walker, S. M., & Bomphrey, R. J. (2020). Aerodynamic imaging by mosquitoes inspires a surface detector for autonomous flying vehicles. Science, 368(6491), 634-637.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2020
Publication Date May 8, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 24, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2020
Journal Science
Print ISSN 0036-8075
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 368
Issue 6491
Pages 634-637
Public URL


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