How Fast do Flies Fly?

Oliver Büser, Thilo Kazmierczak

We set ourselves the challenge of measuring the velocity of a fly from a distance. For movements parallel to the image plane we were able to determine the flown distance and time and thus velocity based on the fly's trace on photos. Initially we needed to know the distance between camera and measured object, but by using two pinhole cameras we were able to determine the velocity independently from the distance between cameras and object. We did this first graphically and then mathematically. However, the biggest challenge was determining the velocity of the fly for three-dimensional flight paths. We derived the equations for this and conducted first experiments where we calculated both velocity and measurement uncertainty. Even though the measurement uncertainty was quite high, we were able to confirm our equations. We hope to resolve the remaining issues regarding time measurements and three-dimensional measurements before the contest.

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