The role of robotic systems including autonomous vehicles is expected to grow significantly in the near future. Current unmanned aerial vehicles are incapable of autonomously maintaining flight close to the Earth’s surface where aerial locomotion is very challenging due to unsteady winds and complex terrain. Biological flyers, such as insects and birds, though equipped with only tiny sensory and motor systems, are capable of precision flight and navigating long distances through complex terrain. Thus insects and birds may be considered model organisms to study miniature flight and can offer solutions to the design on unmanned flying systems. Understanding the strategies employed by biological systems on sensory, information processing and motor control is vital in order to develop a general framework for their implementation in miniature robotic platforms. However, relatively little is known about how well flying animals can contend with complex, adverse air-flows, or about the flight control mechanisms employed to navigate through complex spatial environments. With recent advancements in high speed imaging technology and cross disciplinary approaches, we are now capable of probing the bio-mechanics of natural flight in realistic aerial conditions and translating this knowledge to the design of miniature flying robots. In this talk, I will be presenting on some of these investigations, in particular, I will be presenting on the flight dynamics of bumblebees through complex spatial and wind environments, and the implications for drone flight. I will also present on the mechanics of hummingbird flight through discrete and continuous aerial disturbances and elucidate on some bio-inspired flight control strategies. Even if you are not into this stuff, do come along as there will be lots of cool high speed videos!
Dr.Sridhar Ravi completed Bachelors of Engineering (Aerospace) and PhD from RMIT in 2007 & 2011 respectively. For his PhD, Dr. Ravi studied the influence of wind turbulence on the aerodynamic performance of wings. From 2012 he was a Post-‐Doc Fellow in the Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in Harvard University where he studied insect and bird flight in complex spatial and wind environments. Dr. Ravi is currently Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Bielefeld University conducting research on collision aviodance strategies in Bumblebees. Dr. Ravi is also a Vice Chancellors Research Fellow in RMIT University since 2014.