The goal of this research project is to investigate the neuronal control of flying prey interception in dragonflies by designing, constructing, and testing an apparatus to simulate the complex motions of a flying insect. Our three-dimensional motion device is capable of mimicking a flying insect by moving a small bead accurately up to speeds of 1 m/s in any direction. Dragonflies are efficient aerial predators that can intercept and capture small insects in flight. Our stimulus device will be used to determine the way in which dragonfly neurons encode information about object movement in three dimensions. Sinusoidal position tracking experiments using multiple input frequencies were conducted using the apparatus. The results indicate that the machine operates with good repeatability with little variability between trials. Preliminary dragonfly testing with the apparatus showed favorable results, indicating proof of concept.

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