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UW leading $7.5 million study of animal flight and aerial vehicles
Date:9/30/2010

ersection of engineering and biology. The UW's share of the grant is $1.96 million.

At the UW, Morgansen has built robotic fish and studied schools of fish to understand how they navigate underwater. Tom Daniel, a UW professor of Biology who uses electronic sensors to learn how moths detect and respond to their surroundings, also is involved in the research.

"Our lab works on how animals use many types of sensor information both visual and mechanical sensing, in terms of gyroscopes and position-sensing organs and how they meld all that information in their nervous system to enable really fast sensing and control," Daniel said.

At Boston University, research includes studying artificial intelligence and decision-making, as well as learning how bats behave when they are flying among trees. At the University of Maryland, projects include studying how bees adapt to changing wind conditions, and developing sonar sensors for aerial vehicles. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, biologist Tyson Hedrick, a former postdoctoral researcher in Daniel's lab, studies flight in organisms ranging from insects to birds.

The UW will host a national workshop next summer on bio-inspired engineering with a focus on flight. Other partners will host workshops in future years.

The grant is awarded through the Office of Naval Research's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program, which funds basic research that has the potential for both commercial and defense applications. That program is restricted to academic institutions, but Morgansen says Pacific Northwest aerospace companies will likely be involved in some capacity.

"This is a basic research project, so all of the results will be public," Morgansen said. "I imagine the tools we're developing will be of interest to the aerospace industry." ###


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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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