Flight of bats may help develop robot planes

A bat, Glossophaga soricina, in flight in a wind tunnel at Lund University, Sweden. The velocity field induced by the wingbeat is shown superimposed and to scale. The bat wake reconstructions have features that have not been observed in similar-sized birds. Membranous and feathered wings of natural and engineered flyers may have significantly different aerodynamic properties-Credit: Lund University, SwedenBats use very different wing motions in flight than birds, according to a detailed study of how the mammals fly.

The results could provide fresh ideas for engineers who are designing new, more manoeuvrable robotic planes.

Bats and birds represent two completely separate evolutionary solutions to the problem of flight. Archaeopteryx, the dinosaur ancestor of modern birds, developed its method around 150m years ago, but bats are relative newcomers to the skies. Earliest flying bat fossils date to around 50m years ago in the Eocene period.

The differences in the nature of a bat or bird wing are obvious, but now researchers have shown that these differences mean the two groups use very different aerodynamic strategies to get off the ground.

Source:  Guardian

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