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AE590 Seminar: Insect flight: stability, control, and energetic optimality

Event Type
Department of Aerospace Engineering
CIF 2036
Nov 17, 2022   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Tsevi Beatus | The School of Computer Science and Engineering, The Institute of Life Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Courtney McLearin
Originating Calendar
Aerospace Engineering Seminars

Flying insects can perform a wide array of extreme aerial maneuvers with exquisite accuracy and robustness. Understanding the mechanisms of insect flight is an interdisciplinary challenge, since this graceful behavior is highly coupled to complex fluid flows and arises from the concerted operation of a number of physiological functions. Moreover, a flapping insect is a nonlinear dynamical system subject to fast-growing mechanical instabilities that must be controlled to allow flight. Hence, similar to balancing a stick on one's fingertip, flapping flight is a delicate balancing act made possible only by ever-present, fast corrective actions.

To study insect flight control, we developed a magnetic perturbation method where we mechanically rotate insects in mid-air and use high-speed cameras to capture their body and wings motion in 3D. From these experiments, we find how fruit flies and mosquitoes control their unstable degrees-of-freedom, roll and pitch. Additionally, using computational fluid dynamics simulations, we show that the lateral dynamics of flies is passively unstable, and we demonstrate how the details of their wing kinematics and wing-wing interaction contribute to this instability. Finally, we show how thinking about the energetics of flapping flight led us to new insights on the energetic optimality of generic nonlinear oscillating systems with elasticity.

A to-go style lunch will be provided for those who register by Monday, November 14.


About the Speaker:

Tsevi Beatus is a faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem of Jerusalem, Israel, since 2016. He has a dual appointment at The School of Computer Science and Engineering and at The Institute of Life Sciences.

Academic trajectory:

  • Sc. in Physics and Computer Science at the Hebrew University.
  • D. in Physics at the Weizmann Institute, working on the collective, non-equilibrium dynamics of microfluidic droplets.
  • Postdoc in the Physics Department at Cornell University, working insect flight control with Prof. Itai Cohen. Funded by The Human Frontier Cross-Disciplinary postdoctoral fellowship.


Google Scholar profile:




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