Visual Tethered Flight Simulators (Fly-O-Vision)

To study flight behavior in a more controlled way than is possible in free flight, we have constructed a series of tethered flight simulators, based on the pioneering work of Werner Reichardt, Karl Götz, and other previous researchers. With Fly-O-Vision, the animal is carefully tethered to a fine tungsten wire and placed within a cylindrical array of computer-controlled LEDs. We measure the output of the fly's flight system using either a wingbeat analyzer (which tracks in real time the shadows of the two wings cast by an infrared diode), or a laser-based force and torque sensors (which measure whole-body aerodynamic forces generated by the fly). The instruments are used in two basic configurations, open-loop and closed-loop. In open-loop mode, we present the animal with a visual stimulus and measure its behavioral response. In closed-loop mode, the fly itself can alter its visual environment through changes in wing motion or flight forces. For example, the fly can rotate the visual display to the left, by generating an aerodynamic torque that would rotate it to the left..


Flight force modulation

Flight simulator take-off

Fly swatter paradigm

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