Development of a biologically inspired multi-modal wing model for aerial-aquatic robotic vehicles through empirical and numerical modelling of the common guillemot, Uria aalge

Bioinspir Biomim. 2010 Dec;5(4):046001. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/5/4/046001. Epub 2010 Nov 8.


The common guillemot, Uria aalge, a member of the auk family of seabirds, exhibits locomotive capabilities in both aerial and aquatic substrates. Simplistic forms of this ability have yet to be achieved by robotic vehicle designs and offer significant potential as inspiration for future concept designs. In this investigation, we initially investigate the power requirements of the guillemot associated with different modes of locomotion, empirically determining the saving associated with the retraction of the wing during aquatic operations. A numerical model of a morphing wing is then created to allow power requirements to be determined for different wing orientations, taking into account the complex kinematic and inertial dynamics associated with the motion. Validation of the numerical model is achieved by comparisons with the actual behaviour of the guillemot, which is done by considering specific mission tasks, where by the optimal solutions are found utilizing an evolutionary algorithm, which are found to be in close agreement with the biological case.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Animals
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Equipment Design
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Robotics / instrumentation
  • Ships*
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*