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Bats inspire ‘micro air vehicle’ designs

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Posted February 19, 2014
Bats inspire 'micro air vehicle' designs
This is the time history of coherent vortex formation around the bat wing. Bottom plot shows lift and thrust coefficient variation for a flapping cycle over normalized time. Credit: D. Tafti/VT
By exploring how creatures in nature are able to fly by flapping their wings, Virginia Tech researchers hope to apply that knowledge toward designing small flying vehicles known as “micro air vehicles” with flapping wings.

More than 1,000 species of bats have hand membrane wings, meaning that their fingers are essentially “webbed” and connected by a flexible membrane. But understanding how bats use their wings to manipulate the air around them is extremely challenging—primarily because both experimental measurements on live creatures and the related computer analysis are quite complex.

In Virginia Tech’s study of fruit bat wings, the researchers used experimental measurements of the movements of the bats’ wings in real flight, and then used analysis software to see the direct relationship between wing motion and airflow around the bat wing. They report their findings in the journal Physics of Fluids.

“Bats have different wing shapes and sizes, depending on their evolutionary function.

Read more at: Phys.org

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