A group of scientists from the University of London created an artificial moustache capable of determining the location of the source of the fluid flow, which is how the moustache of the sea lions is constructed.
"A study of the behaviour of sea lions has shown that they are able to determine the direction of the vortex, even when facing the opposite side," explains researchers as a background. "These experiments have shown that the mustache system and the neural processing of animal signals seem to be able to determine the direction of arrival on only one side of the vibris pillows. Consequently, the temporal differences between moustache stimulation are a likely method of determining angle."
To prove this concept and see if it can find application anywhere else, the sod command for artificial mustache reproduction — the creation of a two-dimensional array of mustache sensors and a three-dimensional array modelled on a sea lion's head model. By putting the arrays in a reservoir with water and a windstorm generator, the team proves that their moustache model was correct — and artificial versions could actually use the difference in time of arrival to detect the source of disturbance.
"The common array attached to the plate is the more practical deployment of sensors for future applications," concludes the command, including autonomous underwater navigation and tracking systems. The use of several three sensors results in a re-distributed system that provides more precise solutions by combining output data from all suitable triplets. In addition, machine learning or learning methods can further enhance the reliability of the system and reduce its sensitivity to noise. The regular array template was used as a simple model to provide a vortex pulse.
The team is also working on moving the concept from water to air, creating an aerodynamic profile, equipped with an array of artificial mustaches to control the airflow — hoping that the same calculations that found the source of the disturbance in the water will allow them to detect other planes on their pickwater trail.