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Properties of insect tactile sensors

Research Achievements

Properties of insect tactile sensors

IGERT Trainee Jean-Michel Mongeau discovered novel biomechanical properties of insect tactile sensors for wall following and spatial mapping. Through an interdisciplinary collaboration with robotic engineers at Johns Hopkins University, Jean-Michel's biological discovery has already been translated into an effective robotic antennal model. During high-speed wall following, cockroaches rely predominantly on mechanosensory structures in the unactuated portion of the antenna, the flagellum. Jean-Michel found that large, tuned mechanosensory hairs allow antennae to effectively "stick" to walls by interlocking and enable an antenna to transition to a preferred, more effective, bent posture. In the future, this novel, passive-mechanical filtering of sensory information by cockroach antenna will inspire designs used on robots built by IGERT students in Co-PI Ron Fearing's laboratory.