Macro picture of dragonfly in nature
Macro picture of dragonfly
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Studying animals to produce more efficient machines

  • Professor Adrian Thomas (Zoology) is building on our deep understanding of movement in animals to create ever more powerful technologies.
  • Spinout company Animal Dynamics is applying these insights to create systems capable of performance beyond anything currently found in either nature or engineering.
  • Research into the principles of efficiency and performance found in natural systems is being coupled with advanced engineering techniques, materials and processes.
  • The team is exploring propulsion systems in water - based on the fluid dynamics of dolphins and whales powered by flapping fins.
  • Dragonflies are inspiring the development of small, agile and resilient airborne devices.
  • This is not ‘biomimetics’. The Oxford team stresses the importance of avoiding the ‘biomimicry’ trap – seeking to copy the details of the animals rather than identifying the underlying principles and applying them.