Flies trade off stability and performance via adaptive compensation to wing damage

Wael Salem, Benjamin Cellini, Heiko Kabutz, Hari Krishna Hari Prasad, Bo Cheng, Kaushik Jayaram, Jean Michel Mongeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Physical injury often impairs mobility, which can have dire consequences for survival in animals. Revealing mechanisms of robust biological intelligence to prevent system failure can provide critical insights into how complex brains generate adaptive movement and inspiration to design fault-tolerant robots. For flying animals, physical injury to a wing can have severe consequences, as flight is inherently unstable. Using a virtual reality flight arena, we studied how flying fruit flies compensate for damage to one wing. By combining experimental and mathematical methods, we show that flies compensate for wing damage by corrective wing movement modulated by closedloop sensing and robust mechanics. Injured flies actively increase damping and, in doing so, modestly decrease flight performance but fly as stably as uninjured flies. Quantifying responses to injury can uncover the flexibility and robustness of biological systems while informing the development of bio-inspired fault-tolerant strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabo0719
JournalScience Advances
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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