Ken Breuer | School of Engineering, Brown University
Aeromechanics of compliant membranes - from Bat flight to flexible wings
Bats are able to fly with extraordinary agility and maneuverability, partly due to their articulated and highly-compliant membrane wings. These membranes have complex anisotropic hyper elastic properties which can be controlled using embedded muscles that dynamically adjust the wing tension in response to the aerodynamic conditions. Here I will present data from measurements of bats during free flight in a wind tunnel, including measurements of their wing motion, and the role of these tension-controlling muscles. In addition, we have performed a variety of experiments and theory on the behavior of elastic extensible membrane wings that are both fixed and flapping, I will describe how the compliance affects the aerodynamic performance and how, by mimicking the role of the tension-controlling muscles seen in bat wings, we can influence the aerodynamics performance and the vortex shedding on membrane wings at high angles of attack.