Credit: Willem Hoebink & Xander van der Sar

Welcome at Stanford's BIRD lab! 
[Bio-Inspired Research & Design]

How do birds morph their body to maximize flight control and performance? | Credit: Jean Francois Cornuet

Why can animals fly effortless through environments that are visually and aerodynamically cluttered? | Credit: Henk Jan Jansen

What enables birds to turn on a dime? | Credit: David Lentink & Jan Wouter Kruyt

How does massive sensory integration enable animals to be super maneuverable? | Credit Joris Schaap & Emile van Wijk

Which aerodynamic mechanisms enable even the simplest organisms to fly stably in turbulence? | Credit: David Lentink

Lab Messages


3D reconstruction bird flight

Marc Deetjen invented a new algorithm for 3D reconstructing the wing and body of birds in 3D at high-speed fully automatically. In his paper in the  Journal of Experimental Biology  he describes the new binary single-shot technique that ...

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Bird Wind Tunnel Published in RSOS

The performance of our new wind tunnel has now been measured and published in Royal Society Open Science. The turbulence level of the airflow is less than 0.03% and the wind tunnel is very quiet, perfect for low Reynolds number studies. Other feat...

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JRS Interface Focus & Bird Laser Goggles

We edited a new  Special Issue of JRS Interface Focus  with 18 contributions of leading researchers working on animal flight and aerial robotics. Several papers of the lab got published as well, including one that features our bird laser goggle...

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TEDx Stanford

David Lentink | Drones of a Feather

In a new TEDxStanford talk David showcases the exciting multidisciplinary research and design philosophy of our lab based on the latest bird and robot research. The presentation includes amazing feats of bird flight, birds flying with miniature laser goggles, flapping robot wings that morph automatically, and it explains our new aerodynamic force platform that directly measures the lift force generated by birds in free flight for the very first time. In summary it truly is an exciting time to invent Drones of a Feather by unlocking the magic of bird flight together.

TEDx Amsterdam

David Lentink | Bio-inspired Flight

Nature is a great source of inspiration; ever since we first saw animals fly we dreamed of flight. Our dream came true with the invention of the airplane by Lilienthal & the Wright Brothers, who were inspired by birds a century ago. 100 years is, however, extremely recent
on an evolutionary time scale — we can still learn from birds. Currently there is a new wave of bio-inspired innovation that is revolutionizing the design of micro flying robots. Professor Lentink has worked for several years with collaborators and students to solve key biological questions that enable the design of innovative flying robots. In his TEDx talk Lentink explains the ideas that made it all possible.

CNN Feature

The Art of Movement | Bird Flight

Click this link to see The Art of Movement . CNN visited the lab in September 2013 to learn more about how we study bird flight as an inspiration for developing flying robots. The crew visited us on campus and at our field station for two days. Since we just started, it was great to see that many lab members were able to demonstrate their bird flight research and robot development. The excellent organization by several first year graduate lab members promises a wonderful grand opening of our new bird wind tunnel facility. 

NYT Video

How Birds Lift Weight | Innovation

The lab published its invention of the first Aerodynamic Force Platform (AFP) in Interface, which has been featured in Nature as Research Highlight, with stories in The EconomistNew Scientist, and NYT (left). The publication presents theory, validation, and a demonstration of the first nonintrusive in vivo method to measure aerodynamic force directly in freely flying animals and drones. It is based on the conservation of momentum and Newton's third law, which we applied in an elegant way. The physical realization of this invention required the advanced engineering typical for Stanford's department of Mechanical Engineering.  

NYT Video

Bird Laser Goggles | Aerodynamics

To test three popular models that predict the lift generated by flying animals, we trained birds to fly voluntary wearing custom 3D printed laser safety goggles with lenses salvaged from our own laser safety goggles. Using a high-speed laser and four cameras at 1,000 frames per second, we studied the vortices birds generate to stay in the air. Our research sheds light on how the unexpected breakdown of tip vortices limits the ability of models to predict lift in animal flight. The work published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics got featured by the Science homepageThe New York TimesThe TimesPopular Science & Popular Mechanics as well as many other media.