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36 Publications

Showing 31-36 of 36 results
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    Card Lab
    09/01/09 | Flight dynamics and control of evasive maneuvers: the fruit fly’s takeoff.
    Zabala FA, Card GM, Fontaine EI, Dickinson MH, Murray RM
    IEEE Transactions on Bio-Medical Engineering. 2009 Sep;56(9):2295-8. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2027606

    We have approached the problem of reverse-engineering the flight control mechanism of the fruit fly by studying the dynamics of the responses to a visual stimulus during takeoff. Building upon a prior framework [G. Card and M. Dickinson, J. Exp. Biol., vol. 211, pp. 341-353, 2008], we seek to understand the strategies employed by the animal to stabilize attitude and orientation during these evasive, highly dynamical maneuvers. As a first step, we consider the dynamics from a gray-box perspective: examining lumped forces produced by the insect’s legs and wings. The reconstruction of the flight initiation dynamics, based on the unconstrained motion formulation for a rigid body, allows us to assess the fly’s responses to a variety of initial conditions induced by its jump. Such assessment permits refinement by using a visual tracking algorithm to extract the kinematic envelope of the wings [E. I. Fontaine, F. Zabala, M. Dickinson, and J. Burdick, "Wing and body motion during flight initiation in Drosophila revealed by automated visual tracking," submitted for publication] in order to estimate lift and drag forces [F. Zabala, M. Dickinson, and R. Murray, "Control and stability of insect flight during highly dynamical maneuvers," submitted for publication], and recording actual leg-joint kinematics and using them to estimate jump forces [F. Zabala, "A bio-inspired model for directionality control of flight initiation," to be published.]. In this paper, we present the details of our approach in a comprehensive manner, including the salient results.

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    Card Lab
    01/27/09 | Dynamics of escaping flight initiations of Drosophila melanogaster.
    Zabalax FA, Card GM, Fontaine EI, Murray RM, Dickinson MH
    2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics. 2008:. doi: 10.1109/BIOROB.2008.4762921

    We present a reconstruction of the dynamics of flight initiation from kinematic data extracted from high-speed video recordings of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The dichotomy observed in this insect’s flight initiation sequences, generated by the presence or absence of visual stimuli, clearly generates two contrasting sets of dynamics once the flies become airborne. By calculating reaction forces and moments using the unconstrained motion formulation for a rigid body, we assess the fly’s responses amidst these two dynamic patterns as a step towards refining our understanding of insect flight control.

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    Card Lab
    09/09/08 | Visually mediated motor planning in the escape response of Drosophila.
    Card G, Dickinson MH
    Current Biology. 2008 Sep 9;18(17):1300-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.094

    A key feature of reactive behaviors is the ability to spatially localize a salient stimulus and act accordingly. Such sensory-motor transformations must be particularly fast and well tuned in escape behaviors, in which both the speed and accuracy of the evasive response determine whether an animal successfully avoids predation [1]. We studied the escape behavior of the fruit fly, Drosophila, and found that flies can use visual information to plan a jump directly away from a looming threat. This is surprising, given the architecture of the pathway thought to mediate escape [2, 3]. Using high-speed videography, we found that approximately 200 ms before takeoff, flies begin a series of postural adjustments that determine the direction of their escape. These movements position their center of mass so that leg extension will push them away from the expanding visual stimulus. These preflight movements are not the result of a simple feed-forward motor program because their magnitude and direction depend on the flies’ initial postural state. Furthermore, flies plan a takeoff direction even in instances when they choose not to jump. This sophisticated motor program is evidence for a form of rapid, visually mediated motor planning in a genetically accessible model organism.

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    Card Lab
    02/01/08 | Performance trade-offs in the flight initiation of Drosophila.
    Card G, Dickinson M
    The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2008 Feb;211(Pt 3):341-53. doi: 10.1242/jeb.012682

    The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster performs at least two distinct types of flight initiation. One kind is a stereotyped escape response to a visual stimulus that is mediated by the hard-wired giant fiber neural pathway, and the other is a more variable ;voluntary’ response that can be performed without giant fiber activation. Because the simpler escape take-offs are apparently successful, it is unclear why the fly has multiple pathways to coordinate flight initiation. In this study we use high-speed videography to observe flight initiation in unrestrained wild-type flies and assess the flight performance of each of the two types of take-off. Three-dimensional kinematic analysis of take-off sequences indicates that wing use during the jumping phase of flight initiation is essential for stabilizing flight. During voluntary take-offs, early wing elevation leads to a slower and more stable take-off. In contrast, during visually elicited escapes, the wings are pulled down close to the body during take-off, resulting in tumbling flights in which the fly translates faster but also rotates rapidly about all three of its body axes. Additionally, we find evidence that the power delivered by the legs is substantially greater during visually elicited escapes than during voluntary take-offs. Thus, we find that the two types of Drosophila flight initiation result in different flight performances once the fly is airborne, and that these performances are distinguished by a trade-off between speed and stability.

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    Card Lab
    03/01/06 | High-speed pollen release in the white mulberry tree, Morus alba L.
    Taylor PE, Card GM, House J, Dickinson MH, Flagan RC
    Sexual Plant Reproduction. 2006 Mar;19(1):19-24. doi: 10.1007/s00497-005-0018-9

    Anemophilous plants described as catapulting pollen explosively into the air have rarely attracted detailed examination. We investigated floral anthesis in a male mulberry tree with high-speed video and a force probe. The stamen was inflexed within the floral bud. Exposure to dry air initially resulted in a gradual movement of the stamen. This caused fine threads to tear at the stomium, ensuring dehiscence of the anther, and subsequently enabled the anther to slip off a restraining pistillode. The sudden release of stored elastic energy in the spring-like filament drove the stamen to straighten in less than 25 μs, and reflex the petals to velocities in excess of half the speed of sound. This is the fastest motion yet observed in biology, and approaches the theoretical physical limits for movements in plants.

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    Card Lab
    01/01/04 | Dynamics of leg muscle function in tammar wallabies (M. eugenii) during level versus incline hopping.
    Biewener AA, McGowan C, Card GM, Baudinette RV
    The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2004 Jan;207(Pt 2):211-23

    The goal of our study was to examine whether the in vivo force-length behavior, work and elastic energy savings of distal muscle-tendon units in the legs of tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) change during level versus incline hopping. To address this question, we obtained measurements of muscle activation (via electromyography), fascicle strain (via sonomicrometry) and muscle-tendon force (via tendon buckles) from the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and plantaris (PL) muscles of tammar wallabies trained to hop on a level and an inclined (10 degrees, 17.4% grade) treadmill at two speeds (3.3 m s(-1) and 4.2 m s(-1)). Similar patterns of muscle activation, force and fascicle strain were observed under both level and incline conditions. This also corresponded to similar patterns of limb timing and movement (duty factor, limb contact time and hopping frequency). During both level and incline hopping, the LG and PL exhibited patterns of fascicle stretch and shortening that yielded low levels of net fascicle strain [LG: level, -1.0+/-4.6% (mean +/- S.E.M.) vs incline, 0.6+/-4.5%; PL: level, 0.1+/-1.0% vs incline, 0.4+/-1.6%] and muscle work (LG: level, -8.4+/-8.4 J kg(-1) muscle vs incline, -6.8+/-7.5 J kg(-1) muscle; PL: level, -2.0+/-0.6 J kg(-1) muscle vs incline, -1.4+/-0.7 J kg(-1) muscle). Consequently, neither muscle significantly altered its contractile dynamics to do more work during incline hopping. Whereas electromyographic (EMG) phase, duration and intensity did not differ for the LG, the PL exhibited shorter but more intense periods of activation, together with reduced EMG phase (P<0.01), during incline versus level hopping. Our results indicate that design for spring-like tendon energy savings and economical muscle force generation is key for these two distal muscle-tendon units of the tammar wallaby, and the need to accommodate changes in work associated with level versus incline locomotion is achieved by more proximal muscles of the limb.

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