Our visual system allows us to rapidly identify and intercept a moving object. When this object is far away, we base the trajectory on the target's location relative to an external frame of reference . This process forms the basis for the constant bearing angle (CBA) model, a reactive strategy that ensures interception since the bearing angle, formed between the line joining pursuer and target (called the range vector) and an external reference line, is held constant [2-4]. The CBA model may be a fundamental and widespread strategy, as it is also known to explain the interception trajectories of bats and fish [5, 6]. Here, we show that the aerial attack of the tiny robber fly Holcocephala fusca is consistent with the CBA model. In addition, Holcocephala fusca displays a novel proactive strategy, termed "lock-on" phase, embedded with the later part of the flight. We found the object detection threshold for this species to be 0.13, enabled by an extremely specialized, forward pointing fovea (similar to 5 ommatidia wide, interommatidial angle Delta phi = 0.28 degrees, photoreceptor acceptance angle Delta rho = 0.27 degrees). This study furthers our understanding of the accurate performance that a miniature brain can achieve in highly demanding sensorimotor tasks and suggests the presence of equivalent mechanisms for target interception across a wide range of taxa.
Research data supporting "A novel interception strategy in a miniature robber fly with extreme visual acuity"
Nordström, K. (Contributor), Wardill, T. J. (Contributor), Gonzalez-Bellido, P. T. (Contributor), Pettigrew, A. C. (Contributor), Fabian, S. T. (Contributor) & Stavenga, D. (Contributor), University of Groningen, 17-jan.-2018