Scaling trends of bird's alular feathers in connection to leading-edge vortex flow over hand-wing.
ABSTRACT: An aerodynamic structure ubiquitous in Aves is the alula; a small collection of feathers muscularized near the wrist joint. New research into the aerodynamics of this structure suggests that its primary function is to induce leading-edge vortex (LEV) flow over bird's outer hand-wing to enhance wing lift when manuevering at slow speeds. Here, we explore scaling trends of the alula's spanwise position and its connection to this function. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that the relative distance of the alula from the wing tip is that which maximizes LEV-lift when the wing is spread and operated in a deep-stall flight condition. To test this, we perform experiments on model wings in a wind tunnel to approximate this distance and compare our results to positional measurements of the alula on spread-wing specimens. We found the position of the alula on non-aquatic birds selected for alula optimization to be located at or near the lift-maximizing position predicted by wind tunnel experiments. These findings shed new light on avian wing anatomy and the role of unconventional aerodynamics in shaping it.
Project description:A gliding bird's ability to stabilize its flight path is as critical as its ability to produce sufficient lift. In flight, birds often morph the shape of their wings, but the consequences of avian wing morphing on flight stability are not well understood. Here, we investigate how morphing the gull elbow joint in gliding flight affects their static pitch stability. First, we combined observations of freely gliding gulls and measurements from gull wing cadavers to identify the wing configurations used during gliding flight. These measurements revealed that, as wind speed and gusts increased, gulls flexed their elbows to adopt wing shapes characterized by increased spanwise camber. To determine the static pitch stability characteristics of these wing shapes, we prepared gull wings over the anatomical elbow range and measured the developed pitching moments in a wind tunnel. Wings prepared with extended elbow angles had low spanwise camber and high passive stability, meaning that mild perturbations could be negated without active control. Wings with flexed elbow angles had increased spanwise camber and reduced static pitch stability. Collectively, these results demonstrate that gliding gulls can transition across a broad range of static pitch stability characteristics using the motion of a single joint angle.
Project description:We present a computational study of flapping-wing aerodynamics of a calliope hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope) during fast forward flight. Three-dimensional wing kinematics were incorporated into the model by extracting time-dependent wing position from high-speed videos of the bird flying in a wind tunnel at 8.3?m?s(-1). The advance ratio, i.e. the ratio between flight speed and average wingtip speed, is around one. An immersed-boundary method was used to simulate flow around the wings and bird body. The result shows that both downstroke and upstroke in a wingbeat cycle produce significant thrust for the bird to overcome drag on the body, and such thrust production comes at price of negative lift induced during upstroke. This feature might be shared with bats, while being distinct from insects and other birds, including closely related swifts.
Project description:The diversity of wing morphologies in birds reflects their variety of flight styles and the associated aerodynamic and inertial requirements. Although the aerodynamics underlying wing morphology can be informed by aeronautical research, important differences exist between planes and birds. In particular, birds operate at lower, transitional Reynolds numbers than do most aircraft. To date, few quantitative studies have investigated the aerodynamic performance of avian wings as fixed lifting surfaces and none have focused upon the differences between wings from different flight style groups. Dried wings from 10 bird species representing three distinct flight style groups were mounted on a force/torque sensor within a wind tunnel in order to test the hypothesis that wing morphologies associated with different flight styles exhibit different aerodynamic properties. Morphological differences manifested primarily as differences in drag rather than lift. Maximum lift coefficients did not differ between groups, whereas minimum drag coefficients were lowest in undulating flyers (Corvids). The lift to drag ratios were lower than in conventional aerofoils and data from free-flying soaring species; particularly in high frequency, flapping flyers (Anseriformes), which do not rely heavily on glide performance. The results illustrate important aerodynamic differences between the wings of different flight style groups that cannot be explained solely by simple wing-shape measures. Taken at face value, the results also suggest that wing-shape is linked principally to changes in aerodynamic drag, but, of course, it is aerodynamics during flapping and not gliding that is likely to be the primary driver.
Project description:The morphology and kinematics of a flying animal determines the resulting aerodynamic lift through the regulation of the speed of the air moving across the wing, the wing area and the lift coefficient. We studied the detailed three-dimensional wingbeat kinematics of the bat, Leptonycteris yerbabuenae, flying in a wind tunnel over a range of flight speeds (0-7?m/s), to determine how factors affecting the lift production vary across flight speed and within wingbeats. We found that the wing area, the angle of attack and the camber, which are determinants of the lift production, decreased with increasing speed. The camber is controlled by multiple mechanisms along the span, including the deflection of the leg relative to the body, the bending of the fifth digit, the deflection of the leading edge flap and the upward bending of the wing tip. All these measures vary throughout the wing beat suggesting active or aeroelastic control. The downstroke Strouhal number, St(d), is kept relatively constant, suggesting that favorable flow characteristics are maintained during the downstroke, across the range of speeds studied. The St(d) is kept constant through changes in the stroke plane, from a strongly inclined stroke plane at low speeds to a more vertical stroke plane at high speeds. The mean angular velocity of the wing correlates with the aerodynamic performance and shows a minimum at the speed of maximum lift to drag ratio, suggesting a simple way to determine the optimal speed from kinematics alone. Taken together our results show the high degree of adjustments that the bats employ to fine tune the aerodynamics of the wings and the correlation between kinematics and aerodynamic performance.
Project description:Flying animals possess flexible wings that deform during flight. The chordwise flexibility alters the wing shape, affecting the effective angle of attack and hence the surrounding aerodynamics. However, the effects of spanwise flexibility on the locomotion are inadequately understood. Here, we present a two-way coupled aeroelastic model of a plunging spanwise flexible wing. The aerodynamics is modelled with a two-dimensional, unsteady, incompressible potential flow model, evaluated at each spanwise location of the wing. The two-way coupling is realized by considering the transverse displacement as the effective plunge under the dynamic balance of wing inertia, elastic restoring force and aerodynamic force. The thrust is a result of the competition between the enhancement due to wing deformation and induced drag. The results for a purely plunging spanwise flexible wing agree well with experimental and high-fidelity numerical results from the literature. Our analysis suggests that the wing aspect ratio of the abstracted passerine and goose models corresponds to the optimal aeroelastic response, generating the highest thrust while minimizing the power required to flap the wings. At these optimal aspect ratios, the flapping frequency is near the first spanwise natural frequency of the wing, suggesting that these birds may benefit from the resonance to generate thrust.
Project description:Micro air vehicles are used in a myriad of applications, such as transportation and surveying. Their performance can be improved through the study of wing designs and lift generation techniques including leading-edge vortices (LEVs). Observation of natural fliers, e.g. birds and bats, has shown that LEVs are a major contributor to lift during flapping flight, and the common swift (Apus apus) has been observed to generate LEVs during gliding flight. We hypothesize that nonlinear swept-back wings generate a vortex in the leading-edge region, which can augment the lift in a similar manner to linear swept-back wings (i.e. delta wing) during gliding flight. Particle image velocimetry experiments were performed in a water flume to compare flow over two wing geometries: one with a nonlinear sweep (swift-like wing) and one with a linear sweep (delta wing). Experiments were performed at three spanwise planes and three angles of attack at a chord-based Reynolds number of 26 000. Streamlines, vorticity, swirling strength, and Q-criterion were used to identify LEVs. The results show similar LEV characteristics for delta and swift-like wing geometries. These similarities suggest that sweep geometries other than a linear sweep (i.e. delta wing) are capable of creating LEVs during gliding flight.
Project description:Many flying animals use both flapping and gliding flight as part of their routine behaviour. These two kinematic patterns impose conflicting requirements on wing design for aerodynamic efficiency and, in the absence of extreme morphing, wings cannot be optimised for both flight modes. In gliding flight, the wing experiences uniform incident flow and the optimal shape is a high aspect ratio wing with an elliptical planform. In flapping flight, on the other hand, the wing tip travels faster than the root, creating a spanwise velocity gradient. To compensate, the optimal wing shape should taper towards the tip (reducing the local chord) and/or twist from root to tip (reducing local angle of attack). We hypothesised that, if a bird is limited in its ability to morph its wings and adapt its wing shape to suit both flight modes, then a preference towards flapping flight optimization will be expected since this is the most energetically demanding flight mode. We tested this by studying a well-known flap-gliding species, the common swift, by measuring the wakes generated by two birds, one in gliding and one in flapping flight in a wind tunnel. We calculated span efficiency, the efficiency of lift production, and found that the flapping swift had consistently higher span efficiency than the gliding swift. This supports our hypothesis and suggests that even though swifts have been shown previously to increase their lift-to-drag ratio substantially when gliding, the wing morphology is tuned to be more aerodynamically efficient in generating lift during flapping. Since body drag can be assumed to be similar for both flapping and gliding, it follows that the higher total drag in flapping flight compared with gliding flight is primarily a consequence of an increase in wing profile drag due to the flapping motion, exceeding the reduction in induced drag.
Project description:The Leading Edge Vortex (LEV) is a universal mechanism enhancing lift in flying organisms. LEVs, generally illustrated as a single vortex attached to the wing throughout the downstroke, have not been studied quantitatively in freely flying insects. Previous findings are either qualitative or from flappers and tethered insects. We measure the flow above the wing of freely flying hawkmoths and find multiple simultaneous LEVs of varying strength and structure along the wingspan. At the inner wing there is a single, attached LEV, while at mid wing there are multiple LEVs, and towards the wingtip flow separates. At mid wing the LEV circulation is ~40% higher than in the wake, implying that the circulation unrelated to the LEV may reduce lift. The strong and complex LEV suggests relatively high flight power in hawmoths. The variable LEV structure may result in variable force production, influencing flight control in the animals.
Project description:Flight is one of the energetically most costly activities in the animal kingdom, suggesting that natural selection should work to optimize flight performance. The similar size and flight speed of birds and bats may therefore suggest convergent aerodynamic performance; alternatively, flight performance could be restricted by phylogenetic constraints. We test which of these scenarios fit to two measures of aerodynamic flight efficiency in two passerine bird species and two New World leaf-nosed bat species. Using time-resolved particle image velocimetry measurements of the wake of the animals flying in a wind tunnel, we derived the span efficiency, a metric for the efficiency of generating lift, and the lift-to-drag ratio, a metric for mechanical energetic flight efficiency. We show that the birds significantly outperform the bats in both metrics, which we ascribe to variation in aerodynamic function of body and wing upstroke: Bird bodies generated relatively more lift than bat bodies, resulting in a more uniform spanwise lift distribution and higher span efficiency. A likely explanation would be that the bat ears and nose leaf, associated with echolocation, disturb the flow over the body. During the upstroke, the birds retract their wings to make them aerodynamically inactive, while the membranous bat wings generate thrust and negative lift. Despite the differences in performance, the wake morphology of both birds and bats resemble the optimal wake for their respective lift-to-drag ratio regimes. This suggests that evolution has optimized performance relative to the respective conditions of birds and bats, but that maximum performance is possibly limited by phylogenetic constraints. Although ecological differences between birds and bats are subjected to many conspiring variables, the different aerodynamic flight efficiency for the bird and bat species studied here may help explain why birds typically fly faster, migrate more frequently and migrate longer distances than bats.
Project description:The wings of many insect species including crane flies and damselflies are petiolate (on stalks), with the wing planform beginning some distance away from the wing hinge, rather than at the hinge. The aerodynamic impact of flapping petiolate wings is relatively unknown, particularly on the formation of the lift-augmenting leading-edge vortex (LEV): a key flow structure exploited by many insects, birds and bats to enhance their lift coefficient. We investigated the aerodynamic implications of petiolation P using particle image velocimetry flow field measurements on an array of rectangular wings of aspect ratio 3 and petiolation values of P = 1-3. The wings were driven using a mechanical device, the 'Flapperatus', to produce highly repeatable insect-like kinematics. The wings maintained a constant Reynolds number of 1400 and dimensionless stroke amplitude Λ* (number of chords traversed by the wingtip) of 6.5 across all test cases. Our results showed that for more petiolate wings the LEV is generally larger, stronger in circulation, and covers a greater area of the wing surface, particularly at the mid-span and inboard locations early in the wing stroke cycle. In each case, the LEV was initially arch-like in form with its outboard end terminating in a focus-sink on the wing surface, before transitioning to become continuous with the tip vortex thereafter. In the second half of the wing stroke, more petiolate wings exhibit a more detached LEV, with detachment initiating at approximately 70% and 50% span for P = 1 and 3, respectively. As a consequence, lift coefficients based on the LEV are higher in the first half of the wing stroke for petiolate wings, but more comparable in the second half. Time-averaged LEV lift coefficients show a general rise with petiolation over the range tested.