New Scientist:- Moth navigation probed to improve micro-drone flight

Sara Reardon

It turns out moths are far better at video games than we might have thought. When navigating through a virtual forest, hawkmoths determine their route ahead of time depending on how much of the forest they can see. Mimicking their strategy might help us improve the flying ability of the micro-drones now being built.

Moths certainly see the world differently from humans as they zip along at 25 wingbeats per second. To figure out how they use landmarks to aid their navigation, Yonatan Munk of the University of Washington in Seattle created a virtual forest containing various amounts of “fog” that obscured the virtual trees. He then tied a hawkmoth (Manduca sexta) to an input device in front of the screen. This device detected when the moth was turning and caused the visualisation to respond accordingly.