Bats save up on energy by folding in their wings on the upstroke
It is interesting how every minute detail of evolution has been crafted and perfected to essentially create living beings that are best suited to survive, adapt and further evolve. What might seem like random acts of accident to us actually hold great significance. Using modern science and computing power at our disposal today, researchers are constantly unmasking nature to reveal some of its amazing secrets. Physicists and biologists at the Brown University have just revealed another important fact about flight science that not only gives us an insight into how bats and some other birds fly, but might also help us build flying machines with flapping wings.
Most birds generally have light wings, which enable them to easily fly around using the flapping motion. But in case of bats, their wings are a lot more muscular and even flexible, much like the human hand. And it has been traditionally assumed that a bat draws its wings inwards on the upstroke to ensure the best aerodynamic position, which will cut out on drag. And that is absolutely true and it offers great benefit when it comes to energy conservation. Researchers at Brown University have found out another remarkable advantage for this flight pattern.
This inward bend on the upstroke helps bats save up huge amounts of inertial energy as they only use 65 percent of inertial energy with this technique compared to a fully outstretched wing position. In simpler terms, the bat uses its wind flexibility to compensate for the heavy and muscular nature of its wings and still flies in an energy efficient fashion. Since most of the flapping wing body suits till today were designed with fixed wings that are outstretched all the time, this new discovery might help in designing a better personal flying machine.