Aspect ratio (AR) is one parameter used to predict the flight performance of a bat species based on wing shape. Bats with high AR wings are thought to have superior lift-to-drag ratios and are therefore predicted to be able to fly faster or to sustain longer flights. By contrast, bats with lower AR wings are usually thought to exhibit higher manoeuvrability. However, the half-span ARs of most bat wings fall into a narrow range of about 2.5–4.5. Furthermore, these predictions do not take into account the wide variation in flapping motion observed in bats. To examine the influence of different stroke patterns, we measured lift and drag of highly compliant membrane wings with different bat-relevant ARs. A two degrees of freedom shoulder joint allowed for independent control of flapping amplitude and wing sweep. We tested five models with the same variations of stroke patterns, flapping frequencies and wind speed velocities. Our results suggest that within the relatively small AR range of bat wings, AR has no clear effect on force generation. Instead, the generation of lift by our simple model mostly depends on wingbeat frequency, flapping amplitude and freestream velocity; drag is mostly affected by the flapping amplitude.
One contribution of 19 to a theme issue ‘Coevolving advances in animal flight and aerial robotics’.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3576347.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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