We are an internationally-leading biomechanics research team specialising in the dynamics, guidance, and control of flight. Based in the Department of Zoology, our work combines fundamental research on animal flight with a strong and growing emphasis on applications to bio-inspired engineering. We seek to understand the mechanisms underpinning the biological systems that we study with the same depth and rigour as an engineer developing a technical system. More ambitiously, we aim to use this insight to uncover the functional “design” principles that emerge evolutionarily through the interaction of natural selection and physical constraint.
Our applied goal is to identify new sensing algorithms, new control architectures, and new hardware solutions to guide the design of new technologies. More fundamentally we aim to understand – and ultimately predict – how these same organizational principles and algorithms emerge from the interaction of physics and physiology that characterizes all life. We achieve this by combining state-of-the-art experimental facilities, ground-breaking imaging techniques, and technically challenging fieldwork with advanced mathematical theory in a diverse, inter-disciplinary research programme.
The Oxford Flight Group is led by Professor Graham Taylor. Our first spinout company, Animal Dynamics, is led by Professor Adrian Thomas.
Our work features regularly in online, broadcast, and print media. A feed of recent stories follows below, together with news of recent activities and upcoming opportunities.
We run a wide-ranging programme of outreach activities in addition to our work with the media. Professor Taylor works with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History to reach out to teenagers and children locally. Our lab also hosts visits from Oxford’s UNIQ programme, which aims to help students studying at UK state schools and colleges to take informed decisions about higher education by offering hand-on experiences of study and research. Team member Inés Dawson hosts her Draw Curiosity website and YouTube video channel to stimulate and entertain curiosity with interesting science. We are now working to develop a range of content and resources for schools on flight, biomechanics, and bio-inspired technologies, which we will release regularly through our blog. Our lab at the John Krebs Field Station, Wytham, is home to our flying team of Harris' Hawks – Drogon, Rhaegal, Toothless, and Ruby. We welcome visits from schools and youth groups by arrangement through our contact page.