Hummingbirds occupy a novel place in nature: They fly like bugs however have the musculoskeletal system of birds. In keeping with Bo Cheng, the Kenneth Okay. and Olivia J. Kuo Early Profession Affiliate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, hummingbirds have excessive aerial agility and flight varieties, which is why many drones and different aerial autos are designed to imitate hummingbird motion.
Utilizing a novel modeling technique, Cheng and his group of researchers gained new insights into how hummingbirds produce wing motion, which might result in design enhancements in flying robots. Their outcomes have been revealed this week within the Proceedings of Royal Society B.
“We primarily reverse-engineered the inside working of the wing musculoskeletal system—how the muscular tissues and skeleton work in hummingbirds to flap the wings,” mentioned first writer and Penn State mechanical engineering graduate scholar Suyash Agrawal.
“The standard strategies have principally centered on measuring exercise of a chook or insect when they’re in pure flight or in a synthetic setting the place flight-like circumstances are simulated. However most bugs and, amongst birds particularly, hummingbirds are very small. The info that we are able to get from these measurements are restricted.”
The researchers used muscle anatomy literature, computational fluid dynamics simulation knowledge and wing-skeletal motion info captured utilizing micro-CT and X-ray strategies to tell their mannequin. In addition they used an optimization algorithm primarily based on evolutionary methods, often known as the genetic algorithm, to calibrate the parameters of the mannequin. In keeping with the researchers, their strategy is the primary to combine these disparate elements for organic fliers.
“We will simulate the entire reconstructed movement of the hummingbird wing after which simulate all of the flows and forces generated by the flapping wing, together with all of the strain performing on the wing,” Cheng mentioned. “From that, we’re in a position to back-calculate the required complete muscular torque that’s wanted to flap the wing. And that torque is one thing we use to calibrate our mannequin.”
With this mannequin, the researchers uncovered beforehand unknown rules of hummingbird wing actuation.
The primary discovery, based on Cheng, was that hummingbirds’ major muscular tissues, that’s, their flight engines, don’t merely flap their wings in a easy forwards and backwards movement, however as an alternative pull their wings in three instructions: up and down, forwards and backwards, and twisting—or pitching—of the wing. The researchers additionally discovered that hummingbirds tighten their shoulder joints in each the up-and-down path and the pitch path utilizing a number of smaller muscular tissues.
“It is like after we do health coaching and a coach says to tighten your core to be extra agile,” Cheng mentioned. “We discovered that hummingbirds are utilizing related type of a mechanism. They tighten their wings within the pitch and up-down instructions however maintain the wing free alongside the back-and-forth path, so their wings seem like flapping forwards and backwards solely whereas their energy muscular tissues, or their flight engines, are literally pulling the wings in all three instructions. On this means, the wings have superb agility within the up and down movement in addition to the twist movement.”
Whereas Cheng emphasised that the outcomes from the optimized mannequin are predictions that can want validation, he mentioned that it has implications for technological improvement of aerial autos.
“Despite the fact that the expertise shouldn’t be there but to totally mimic hummingbird flight, our work gives important rules for knowledgeable mimicry of hummingbirds hopefully for the subsequent era of agile aerial programs,” he mentioned.
Suyash Agrawal et al, Musculoskeletal wing-actuation mannequin of hummingbirds predicts various results of major flight muscular tissues in hovering flight, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Organic Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.2076
Pennsylvania State College
Hummingbird flight might present insights for biomimicry in aerial autos (2022, December 12)
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