Locusts have helped scientists unlock the secrets of insect flight (Photo: Niv Singer)
It seems that locusts, the bane of farmers the world over, have served some purpose after all. With the aid of a wind tunnel and a high-speed digital video camera, scientists have captured the changes in the shape of the locust's wings during flight and created, for the first time, a computer model that recreates the airflow and thrust generated by their complex flapping movement. Modeling the aerodynamic secrets brings us a step closer to creating miniature robot flyers with the maneuverability and energy efficiency of an insect - such micro-aircraft would likely have huge benefits for search and rescue, military activities and inspecting hazardous environments.
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