Nav: Home

Unique study shows how bats maneuver

November 08, 2018

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in directly measuring the aerodynamics of flying animals as they manoeuvre in the air. Previously, the upstroke of the wings was considered relatively insignificant compared to the powerful downstroke but, in a new study, biologists at Lund University in Sweden have observed that it is on the upstroke of the wings that bats often turn.

Watch bat in flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2zR37vo7Ss

"Until now, we have not known very much about what animals actually do when they fly, since we have focused on steady flight. Steady flight is in fact not very common for animals flying out in the wild. We have now conducted direct aerodynamic measurements on bats and we can see how flexible they are. They turn in several different ways depending on where they are in the wing-beat", explains Per Henningsson, a biologist at Lund University.

"It is really fascinating to see how complex and elegant the pattern of movement is, and how the bats choose the best solution just as they decide to start a manoeuvre", he continues.

For the bats, flight technique with fast manoeuvres at high speed is important to successfully capture insects in flight, as well as to avoid collision with various obstacles such as trees and buildings.

The results could be significant in the development of the next generation of drones.

"One of the main challenges for the industry is about control and stability and enabling drones to avoid obstacles easily. In that context, our results are very relevant", says Per Henningsson, who does not exclude the possibility of future drones being equipped with flapping wings.

The study was conducted on two long-eared bats that were trained to fly in a wind tunnel. As prey, the researchers used mealworms attached to a device that could be moved laterally. By moving the device to the right or to the left, the researchers made the bats turn to follow the direction of the prey. The researchers visualised the air flow and filmed the animals with high-speed cameras. This allowed them to link the aerodynamics to the movements.

The researchers behind the study are biologists from Lund University and the University of Southern Denmark.
-end-


Lund University

Related Bats Articles:

Bats are the major reservoir of coronaviruses worldwide
Results of a five-year study in 20 countries on three continents have found that bats harbor a large diversity of coronaviruses (CoV), the family of viruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS).
Friends help female vampire bats cope with loss
When a female vampire bat loses a close relative, she may starve, because she depends on her mother and daughters to share blood by regurgitation.
Some bats develop resistance to devastating fungal disease
Bat populations in some places in North America appear to have developed resistance to the deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.
The tale of the bats, dark matter and a plastic surgeon
What happens when a plastic surgeon meets a bat expert zoologist and a paleobiologist?
Roads 'a serious threat' to rare bats
Roads present a serious threat to bat populations, indicating that protection policies are failing.
Study documents African monkeys eating bats
Primates and bats may interact directly, but their behavioral and predator-prey interactions are poorly documented, and detailed reports of their interactions have been rare, until now.
Skull specializations allow bats to feast on their fellow vertebrates
Over their 52-million-year history, a few bats have evolved a taste for their fellow vertebrates.
Bats' flight technique could lead to better drones
Long-eared bats are assisted in flight by their ears and body, according to a study by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.
What bats reveal about how humans focus attention
Researchers discover how a bat's brain determines what sounds are worth paying attention to.
How bats recognize their own 'bat signals'
A new Tel Aviv University study identifies the mechanism that allows individual bats to avoid noise overlap by increasing the volume, duration and repetition rate of their signals.

Related Bats Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".