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Ms Cara Williamson

Ms Cara Williamson

Ms Cara Williamson

Area of research

Bio-inspired path planning for Unmanned Air Vehicles in urban landscapes

Queen's Building,
University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TR
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My research uses animal tracking technology and wind modelling to analyse the flight strategies of urban nesting gulls. These flight strategies can be used to create path planning algorithms for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) flying in an urban landscape. Cityscapes create complex air flows; UAVs are susceptible to gusts and turbulence, this limits the flight performance in urban environments. Furthermore, the range and endurance that UAVs can achieve is dependant on the energy stored on board which is weight limited. On the other hand, birds are able to seamlessly navigate complex flows, avoid turbulent areas and use updrafts and thermals to soar. By understanding the flight strategies that birds use I hope to solve the two pitfalls in UAV technology; creating a path planning algorithm that can avoid the turbulent terrain and reduce the energy cost of flight through wind harvesting.

My current research uses GPS tags from the University of Amsterdam to track urban nesting lesser black-backed (Larus. fuscus) from Bristol. 


  • bio-inspired
  • bio-inspired flight
  • Biomimetics
  • Biomimicry
  • Aerospace
  • Aeronautical
  • robotics
  • energy landscapes
  • inverse optimisation
  • multi-objective optimisation
  • animal tracking

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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