• Bat Wings Provide Inspiration For “Micro Air Vehicles”

    by  • February 20, 2014 • News, Projects, Research • 0 Comments

    A recently published study has observed the way bats flap their wings, hoping to find a new way of designing small flying vehicles, and now they’re one flap closer.

    Image of Cynopterus brachyotis in flight. (Credit: Riskin et al.)

    Image of Cynopterus brachyotis in flight. (Credit: Riskin et al.)

    The study entitled “Straight-line climbing flight aerodynamics of a fruit bat“, which was published in the Physics of Fluid journal by a team of researchers from Virginia Tech has led them one step closer to designing their small flying vehicles known as “micro air vehicles”. The micro air vehicles would utilise the knowledge gathered by the team about bats to provide a novel flapping form of flight.

    The research studied the fruit bats wings, which are difficult to model, not only due to the challenge of experiments on live creatures but also because the complexity of the computer analysis required to do so. The movements of the bats wings were observed in real flight and fluid analysis tools were used to monitor the movement of the wings and the relationship of the airflow around them.

    “Bats have different wing shapes and sizes, depending on their evolutionary function. Typically, bats are very agile and can change their flight path very quickly — showing high maneuverability for midflight prey capture, so it’s of interest to know how they do this,” explained Danesh Tafti, the William S. Cross professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the High Performance Computational Fluid Thermal Science and Engineering Lab at Virginia Tech.

    It was discovered through this detailed analysis that the bats continuously manipulated the size and shape of their wings during flight, showing how adaptive the creatures are during flight, making analysis all the more complicated. However once these details were noted it provides a very complex and accurate model of their flight, allowing for future work to continue on developing the micro air vehicles.

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