An Ocellar-Based Flight Control System for Flying Insect Biobots

Summer 2014

Kaylee Mann : Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Mentor: Michel Maharbiz, Engineering

Many insects use ocelli to aid in determining their orientation in flight. Ocelli are a set of small eyes that are separate from the large compound ones on insects such as grasshoppers and dragonflies. We have designed a device that can be mounted on the head to optically stimulate these ocelli. Preliminary results show stimulation of these ocelli to be correlated with head movements. This summer, we will work to show that these movements correspond to a change in the insect's perceived orientation and can be exploited to produce directed flight. The non-invasive nature of insect flight control through optical stimulation means that it is extremely well suited for long-term control applications. Furthermore, by stimulating the senses we are able to utilize some of the insect’s own control capabilities. These insect biobots could be used as a platform for sensors, or for further investigation of insect flight.

I love doing research and have always been excited about discovering new things. I hope to enter a PhD program and continue with a career in Academia. Thanks to the Rose Hills Foundation for helping to make my research experience this summer possible. I’m looking forward to making positive contributions to my field. Recently it seems that the importance of academic research is not being recognized and I appreciate your recognition that such research and education is integral for the further development of our culture and society.