Direct measurements of the kinematics and dynamics of bat flight

Bioinspir Biomim. 2006 Dec;1(4):S10-8. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/1/4/S02. Epub 2006 Dec 22.


Experimental measurements and analysis of the flight of bats are presented, including kinematic analysis of high-speed stereo videography of straight and turning flight, and measurements of the wake velocity field behind the bat. The kinematic data reveal that, at relatively slow flight speeds, wing motion is quite complex, including a sharp retraction of the wing during the upstroke and a broad sweep of the partially extended wing during the downstroke. The data also indicate that the flight speed and elevation are not constant, but oscillate in synchrony with both the horizontal and vertical movements of the wing. PIV measurements in the transverse (Trefftz) plane of the wake indicate a complex 'wake vortex' structure dominated by a strong wing tip vortex shed from the wing tip during the downstroke and either the wing tip or a more proximal joint during the upstroke. Data synthesis of several discrete realizations suggests a 'cartoon' of the wake structure during the entire wing beat cycle. Considerable work remains to be done to confirm and amplify these results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / methods
  • Biomimetics / methods
  • Chiroptera / anatomy & histology
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Rheology / methods*
  • Video Recording / methods
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*