To study how birds fly we developed custom-fitted bird laser goggles with lenses salvaged from our own laser goggles. | Eric Gutierrez. 
The Lentink bird and vehicle wind tunnel at Stanford University has only 0.03% turbulence intensity. | 3D Sketch Brian Carilli. 

Our lab develops innovative techniques to measure the performance of freely flying animals in the lab and field.

We use 2D and 3D time and space resolved particle image velocity techniques to measure flow fields.

Using micro-CT scans and scanning electron microscope images we reconstruct wing morphology to build predictive finite element models.

We use soap-tunnels, vertical wind tunnels, vacuum chambers and other techniques to visualize vortex dynamics and fluid-structure interaction.

We use theoretical and numerical fluid mechanics to design and interpret our experiments.

Lab Messages


Graduation time: Congrats Amanda!

The lab celebrates that Amanda Stowers successfully defended her impressive PhD thesis “Avian Inspired Morphing Wings” on May 8th, well in time for the hooding ceremony during commencement June 18th. In her thesis Amanda covers the most exten...

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Science Advances: Avian long-jump

Congrats to Diana Chin for publishing her first research paper in  Science Advances  showing how parrotlets minimize energy by adjusting their jump angle to make economic foraging flights in trees. Features in an  AAAS video  as...

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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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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.