Project developed for Hyundai-RISD Collaborative Research Partnership 2021. 

We examined topics ranging from community design and biomimicry, cellular life and biosensing, to natural resource systems and infrastructures.

Through focusing on the role certain insects play in larger sound ecologies, we explored the relationship between the natural world, humans and the built environment.  

Tiger Moth (Bertholdia Trigona)

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Tiger moth (Bertholdia trigona) is known to be the only species that produces ultrasonic sounds to defend itself by jamming bats sonars. 

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Image derived from BATS fall 2013 article

The bats made contact with non-clicking moths 400% more often than they did with clicking.

Tiger moths have tymbal organs, which are thoracic plates modified by cuticular thinning and striation produce a complex sound radiator.


​Bilateral tymbals can be activated synchronously or asynchronously with various frequency clicks to generate complex ultrasonic signals. ​


The moth can click up 4500 times per second. ​ Frequency of these clicks ranges 27.7-82.2 kHz and the number of clicks per modulation cycle varied from 1.0 to 21.5 (Corcoran et al., 2009). ​



By studying the tiger moth, I invented a new ultrasonic sensor TMCAS (Tiger Moth Collision Avoidance System) that could be applied to road signs and smart watches to help autonomous cars drive safely. 

(Tiger Moth Collision Avoidance System)



Electric cars are in a large demand and they are soon to take over the car industry substituting vehicles that operate on gas or diesel-powered engines.

Electric & hybrid vehicles don't rely on gas or diesel-powered engines which makes them almost silent in lower speeds. Quiet cars could be dangerous for visually impaired pedestrians who rely on hearing to determine on oncoming vehicles.

TMCAS can help to reduce pedestrian crashes by electric vehicles.

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NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) showing data on incidence rates of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes by Hybrid electric vehicles


Unlike ordinary ultrasonic sensors (left diagram) that only send one pulse to receive the echo to measure distance, TMCAS (right diagram) will have two transducers like tiger moths bilateral tymbal organs.

It will allow to produce a more complex ultrasonic soundwaves to send specific messages to the receiver. 

Benefits of Ultrasonic Sensors

Great accuracy for measuring distance to a parallel


Easy to detect external/deep objects with high

frequency & sensitivity 

Easy to use. Not dangerous during operation for

objects & people

Ultrasonics are Independent of:

  • Light

  • Smoke

  • Dust

  • Color

  • Material (except soft surfaces)


Application Examples:
Road Signs


Smart Watch


1. Vehicle approaches to the pedestrian in high speed and reaches a certain distance.

2. The watch will detect the vehicle. It will vibrate and create ultrasonic clicking noises to alert the pedestrian and send a signal to the vehicle. 

3. Once the vehicle receives the signal, it will stop or detour (depending on the ultrasonic pulse it receives) to avoid crash.