Drones & Biomimicry: Micro Flight Vehicle performance with Simon Watkins

The invisibility of air means that we often struggle to perceive its magnitude, while birds such as Kestrels can sense flow disturbances through biological sensory systems, enabling them to hover in the air with pinpoint accuracy.

Professor Simon Watkins will give a hands-on demonstration on the principles of biomimicry for enhancing Micro Air Vehicles by flying a drone through RMIT Gallery during this event for RMIT Gallery’s Dynamics of Air exhibition, presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut.

Biomimicry is design modelled on biological entities and processes – in this case, the flight of birds.

Watkin’s expertise includes aerodynamics, experimental fluid dynamics and turbulence, and he is involved with many research projects in aerospace and automotive engineering. What excites him most about air is “its predictability and the unpredictability.”

While he can estimate the average airflow around a building through computational modelling, he admits that the complex dynamics of air turbulence are essentially unpredictable.

Currently Watkins is conducting research into MAVs (micro air vehicles) where he is investigating the enhancement of drones through biomimicry — design modelled on biological entities and processes — so they can better cope with instabilities in air turbulence.

Dynamics of Air (14 Sept – 17 Nov) is a new exhibition curated by Malte Wagenfeld showcasing specially commissioned works by designers, creative practitioners and engineers that captures the beauty, dynamics and sensuality of air in our built environment.


Images: Video still from ‘Bio-inspired sensing for Micro Air Vehicles’ and Micro Aerial Reconnaissance Vehicle (MARV) courtesy of Simon Watkins.


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Exhibition14 Sep – 17 Nov 2018

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