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Published February 6, 2017 | public
Journal Article Open

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


Using high-speed videography, we investigated how fruit flies compensate for unilateral wing damage, in which loss of area on one wing compromises both weight support and roll torque equilibrium. Our results show that 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.

Additional Information

© 2016 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. One contribution of 19 to a theme issue 'Coevolving advances in animal flight and aerial robotics'. This work was supported by grants (to F.T.M.) from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO-VENI-863-14-007 (to M.H.D.), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-10-1-0368) and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Authors' contributions: M.H.D. and F.T.M. designed the experiment and wrote the paper; N.A.I. performed the fruit fly experiments; M.J.E. performed the robotic fly experiments; J.M.M. developed the quasi-steady aerodynamic model. F.T.M. performed the data analysis. We declare we have no competing interests.

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Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_001.pdf

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_002.mp4

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_003.mp4

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_004.mp4

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_005.mp4

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_006.mat

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_007.mat

Supplemental Material - rsfs20160103_si_008.mat


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023