The Dragonfly is amazing:
As Fabian et al summarise:
Animal wings deform during ﬂight in ways that can enhance lift, facilitate ﬂight
control, and mitigate damage. Monitoring the structural and aerodynamic state
of the wing is challenging because deformations are passive, and the ﬂow ﬁelds
are unsteady; it requires distributed mechanosensors that respond to local
airﬂow and strain on the wing. Without a complete map of the sensor arrays, it
is impossible to model control strategies underpinned by them. Here, we present
the ﬁrst systematic characterization of mechanosensors on the dragonﬂy’s wings:
morphology, distribution, and wiring. By combining a cross-species survey of
sensor distribution with quantitative neuroanatomy and a high-ﬁdelity ﬁnite
element analysis, we show that the mechanosensors are well placed to perceive
features of the wing dynamics relevant to ﬂight. This work describes the wing
sensory apparatus in its entirety and advances our understanding of the sensori-
motor loop that facilitates exquisite ﬂight control in animals with highly deform-
A video discusses and illustrates:
This, of course, continues to scream, sophisticated, fine tuned, integrated systems engineering driven design.
The Dragonfly is a sophisticated ornithopter class flying machine capable of hovering, sideways and reverse flight [comparable to helicopters], with capability as a living animal, to reproduce itself.
Just the pterostigma alone, which enables up to 25% increase in flight speed by reducing wing flutter (a problem seen by the Spitfire’s designers) is already a case in point of fine tuning and islands of function in large configuration spaces dominated by non functional gibberish and with failure modes nearby. Now, we add a sensor array driven control loop, where such loops, notoriously, require Goldilocks Zone just right tuning. Worse, the wing is highly deformable and acts in an unstable flow field. That is, the required servo control is highly sophisticated and adaptive.
The Dragonfly is a case in point of sophisticated, systems level fine tuned island of function design. A further point for why we need to declare intellectual independence. END