Designing Stable Tiny Fliers

Looking for more stable designs, Leif Ristroph of New York University and Bin Liu of Brown University,analyzed the behavior of paper “bugs” of a variety of shapes (including cones, pyramids, umbrellas, and saucer-shaped UFOs) flying in a “flapping-flight wind tunnel” – a low-frequency woofer loudspeaker, turned upward and fitted with a metallic cap and a clear cylinder in which bugs fly. When the speaker is turned on, it shakes the air in the cylinder up-and-down, mimicking the effect of active flapping. Surprisingly, the researchers found that top-heavy designs are the most stable.

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Runtime: 1:51

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