News & Events
From Gliding Dinosaurs to Andean Hummingbirds: Evolution of the Ultimate Microair Vehicle
Release time:June 14, 2024

Topic: From Gliding Dinosaurs to Andean Hummingbirds: Evolution of the Ultimate Microair Vehicle

Speaker: Prof. Robert Dudley, University of California, Berkeley

Time: Monday, June 17, 2024, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Venue: B402, Main Building, Shahe Campus


Flying animals display remarkable features of aerial maneuverability that to date have no technological parallel. Stability in flight requires force and moment balances that are attained via bilateral symmetry in wingbeat kinematics, whereas body roll and yaw derive from bilaterally asymmetric movements of both axial and appendicular structures. In many flying vertebrates, use of the tail also facilitates the generation of aerodynamic torques to enhance agility in rotation. Using the example of the New World hummingbirds as a model test platform, I will introduce major kinematic, biomechanical, and ecological features of animal flight performance, outline a variety of experimental perturbations to elicit extreme examples of flight control (e.g., flight through apertures, in heavy rain, in high turbulence, and at high elevations), and will broadly delineate experimental opportunities for evaluating low-Reynolds number, unsteady aerodynamics that form the basis of aerial maneuverability in this taxon.

About the Speaker:

Robert Dudley is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He received a B.S. in Zoology in 1983 from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1987 from the University of Cambridge where he was a Marshall Scholar. From 1987 to 1992, Robert was a postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Institution, residing in Panama at the Barro Colorado Island field station. Following appointments at the University of Texas at Austin from 1992 to 2002, he moved to Berkeley in 2003 where he has held multiple endowed chairs, and also served from 2016 to 2021 as Chair of the Department of Integrative Biology. Robert's research is primarily concerned with the evolution, physiology, and biomechanics of animal flight, and uses both laboratory experiments along with field measurements to characterize flight performance under natural conditions.

School of Transportation Science and Engineering