Robotics: Natural efficiencies (Discourse)

7.20pm to 8.45pm, Friday 26 October

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • A bumblebee

Price

Free for Ri Members and Ri Patrons

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Ri Young Members £7

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Standard £20

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Concession £15

Event description

Through natural selection, animals have evolved exquisite adaptations for highly efficient movement through the air, in water and across the ground. Careful analyses of the adaptations of flying, swimming and walking animals are beginning to deliver substantial improvements in the efficiency of a new generation of robotic vehicles. Join zoologist and inventor Adrian Thomas as he showcases his work mimicking nature, from a drone that's inspired by a dragonfly to a boat with a fin rather than a propeller.

Please note this event was also advertised under the title 'Bumblebee flight, torrent fish and dragonfly drones'

About the speaker

Adrian Thomas is a professor of biomechanics at the University of Oxford and Director of Studies in Biological Sciences at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford running the Animal Flight Research Group. He works on Biomechanics, Aerodynamics and Evolution: the adaptations of animals for aerodynamic and biomechanical performance provide a unique opportunity to analyse evolutionary processes because the optimal designs for particular aspects of performance can often be predicted a priori, and independently of the evolutionary history of the animals involved. He uses aerodynamic theory to predict optimal morphologies for specific aspects of flight ecology (flight missions), and test the predictions with phylogenetically controlled comparative methods, with mechanical model organisms, and with free-flying or swimming animals in the laboratory, or in the field.

More about Discourses

Discourses are one of the Ri’s oldest and most prestigious series of talks. Since 1825, audiences in the theatre have witnessed countless mind-expanding moments, including the first public liquefaction of air by James Dewar, the announcement of the electron by J.J. Thomson and over 100 lectures by Michael Faraday. In more recent times, we have had Nobel laureates, Fields medal winners, scientists, authors and artists – all from the cutting-edge of their field. Discourses are an opportunity for the best and brightest to share their work with the world.

Steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition, a Discourse is more than just a lecture. To keep the focus on the topic, presenters begin sharply at 7:30pm without introduction and we lock the speaker into a room ten minutes ahead of the start (legend has it that a speaker once tried to escape!) We also ask guests to dress smartly to add to the sense of occasion.

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.

Membership

Discourses are free for Ri Members and Ri Patrons. Join us today and support us on our mission.

Food and Drink

The Atrium cafe will be open before and after the talk. Check out the delicious menu and call 020 7670 2973 or email ri@ri.ac.uk to reserve your table.

There will also be a cash bar on the Mezzanine before the Discourse, where you can relax, meet likeminded people with an interest in science, and have a drink.

Dress code

The dress code for this event is smart (ties optional, no jeans or trainers). Please note, if you are not dressed smartly you may be asked to sit in the gallery.

Timing note

Please be aware that this Discourse starts at 7.30pm, but all attendees must be seated in the theatre by 7.20pm.

The doors will open at approximately 6.45pm.

Filming

This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

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