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Visual control of landing

Insects are capable of landing accurately on moving substrates, such as a flower or a branch swaying in the breeze. To control their landing they rely exclusively on visual information. By experimentally investigating landing performance in bees and butterflies, we wish to formulate a quantitative model of the control strategy that is employed by flying insects for landing. With a set of high-speed stereo cameras (capable of frame rates of up to 100,000 frames per second) we will be able to precisely reconstruct the 3D flight and landing behaviour of these insects.

A comparison of the trajectories obtained with different visual stimuli at the stationary landing surface will reveal whether visual texture is essential for the control of landing and whether radial image expansion is an important cue for the control of landing. By filming the landings on stationary, as well as moving surfaces, we aim to uncover the control mechanisms that mediate adjustment of body orientation to match the orientation of the moving substrate at touchdown.

Butterfly sitting on flower
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Bees drinking from experimental set up

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