Speed is blinding. Just ask the tiger beetle, the fastest insect its size. Though predatory tiger beetles have excellent sight, when they chase prey, they run so fast they can no longer see where they are going.
Cornell researchers have discovered that, unlike insects that wave their "feelers" around to acquire information, tiger beetles rigidly hold their antennae directly in front of them to mechanically sense their environments and avoid obstacles while running, according to a study published online Feb. 5, 2014 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The findings raise questions about strategies used by other fast animals, such as birds of prey and some fish, to sense their environments when speed blinds. The research also has implications for autonomous vehicles that could use fixed antennae to detect obstacles.