Biological Investigation of Wing Motion of the Manduca Sexta

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An investigation was conducted assessing the feasibility of reproducing the biological flapping motion of the wings of the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta (M.sexta) by artificially stimulating the flight muscles for Micro Air Vehicle research. Electromyographical signals were collected using bipolar intramuscular fine wire electrodes inserted into the primary flight muscles, the dorsal longitudinal and dorsal ventral muscles, of the adult M.sexta. These signals were recorded and associated with wing movement using high speed video. The signals were reapplied into the corresponding muscle groups with the intention of reproducing similar flapping motion. A series of impulse signals were also directed into the primary flight muscles as a means of observing muscle response through measured forewing angles. This study pioneered electromyographic research on M.sexta at the Air Force Institute of Technology with tests conducted with fine wire electrodes. Through this process, the research showed the deformational structural changes that take place when a wing is removed from an insect and proved that muscular stimulation is a viable method for generating wing movement. This study also assisted in developing an understanding related to the role that a thorax-like fuselage could play in future micro aircraft designs. This study has shown that partial neuromuscular control of the primary flight muscles of M.sexta is possible with electrical stimulants which could be used to directly control insect flight.


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The article appears in International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles, a Sage Gold Open Access journal.



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International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles