Robotic Paleontology

People: John Hutchinson, Vivian Allen

An international group of scientists including Professor John Hutchinson and Dr Vivian Allen has constructed a robot, which is able to recreate how a 300 million-year old animal would have walked. This pioneering project is key to enhancing our understanding of how vertebrates first evolved to walk on land. The findings are a result of a collaboration between teams from the EPFL in Switzerland, Humboldt University of Berlin and the Royal Veterinary College.

Avian Wing Morphing

People: Jorn Cheney, Jialei Song, Jim Usherwood, Richard Bomphrey

We are measuring dynamic morphing in bird wings using modern computer vision approaches to develop dynamic three-dimensional surfaces. Using these models, we are exploring kinematic patterns of force generation, identifying mechanisms of gust rejection and recovery, and performing computational fluid dynamics to understand how forces are produced and distributed. These results will shed new insight into the interplay between passive/active wing morphing and aerodynamic force generation and may lead to a new generation of aircraft.

DAWNDINOS: ‘Testing the locomotor superiority hypothesis for early dinosaurs’

People: John Hutchinson, Andrew Cuff, Krijn Michel, Peter Bishop, Louise Kermode

“DAWNDINOS” is a five year research project studying the dawn of the age of the dinosaurs, funded by the European Research Council via an Advanced Investigator Grant to Professor Hutchinson. It focusses on form and function and combines evolutionary and biomechanical research that tests how the anatomy of extinct dinosaurs and their relatives (archosaurs; “ruling reptiles”) was related to their movement and behaviour. 

Research Aircraft

People: Alan Wilson, Steve Amos, John Lowe, Anna Wilson

The RVC Structure and Motion Lab aircraft has been funded through research grants to enable us to undertake research into animal locomotion that would not otherwise be possible, by going up into the air. As well as helping us to understand more about behaviour and locomotion, this aerial data acquisition platform will reveal new insights into how animals interact with the natural environment, which will aid conservation and land management.

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