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Bionics in 1999

The Fly-O-Rama created in the Dickinson Lab to study how flies maneuver during flight, by tethering fruit flies to a metal rod and giving them a virtual world to react to (see photo below for a tethered fly's eye view!).

I was rummaging through my electronic library today and came across a paper had I read over and over again in 1999 as a new graduate student with a nearly insatiable appetite. I am now realizing that it was right around the time this paper was published, that the seed of biomimetics was planted in my head. This article is written by a then faculty member at UC Berkeley (now at Cal Tech), by the name of Michael Dickinson. Even then, as a fairly new professor, it was clear that Dickinson was a rapidly rising star — one with amazing vision and a force to contend with. As the head of a fly neurobiology and flight lab, he was a pioneer in understanding the mechanisms of fly flight using self-created contraptions such as RoboFly and Fly-O-Rama, pictured above. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by this article as much as I was.

Photo courtesy of M Dickinson

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  1. 9 November, 2010 at 16:14

    This is really cool..but what does “fly-O-rama” exactly mean?…i mean from where did this name originate?

    • 9 November, 2010 at 17:50

      Ah. Dickinson loves to come up with fun names for his various creations. Take a look at his lab website and you’ll find some more creative names for his research projects: http://www.dickinson.caltech.edu/Home

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