Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Could gulls' wings inspire smarter airplane design?

03.01.2019

Flexing a single elbow joint enables gulls to adapt their wing shape to gusty conditions--a relatively simple mechanism that could inspire improved aircraft design

Flexing a single elbow joint enables gulls to adapt their wing shape to gusty conditions, according to new University of British Columbia (UBC) research--a relatively simple mechanism that could inspire improved aircraft design.


A young glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens) glides over Canada Place in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Credit: Christina Harvey, University of British Columbia, University of Michigan

"While we know birds frequently alter their wing shape, this is the first empirical evidence demonstrating how that wing morphing affects avian stability," says UBC zoologist Douglas Altshuler, senior author on the paper published this week in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

"And in this case, the gull's wing design points to a novel, and fairly simple, avian-inspired joint that may enable aircraft to adjust dynamically to challenging conditions."

As wing speeds and maximum gusts increase, gulls sacrifice stability for maneuverability. By altering the angle of their elbow joint they shift from extended wing configurations to a flexed configuration, pulling the tips of their wings in and back. The flexed shape gives them more control.

To determine the stability of different wing shapes, Altshuler and researcher Christina Harvey prepared gull wings over the anatomical elbow range and measured their performance in a wind tunnel. They also observed gulls in the wild.

"The Wright brothers weren't the first to design an aircraft that was able to fly, but they were the first to successfully control and stabilize a powered aircraft inflight," says Harvey, now with the University of Michigan.

"Likewise, it's not enough for birds to simply produce sufficient lift and thrust. They must also control and stabilize their flight paths to be able to successfully forage and migrate in their natural habitat."

To get a fuller picture of how birds maintain their stability while gliding the researchers want to study a wider range of wind perturbations -- gulls often encounter unsteady, large-scale turbulence while flying in the wake of buildings or convective air flows over open water.

Atmospheric turbulence in these conditions is likely larger than the wind tunnel turbulence the researchers used in the study.

Media Contact

Chris Balma
balma@science.ubc.ca
604-202-5047

 @UBCnews

http://www.ubc.ca 

Chris Balma | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://science.ubc.ca/node/17551
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2018.0641

Further reports about: UBC aircraft design airplane gulls natural habitat perturbations wind tunnel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht If Machines Could Smell ...
19.07.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

nachricht Algae-killing viruses spur nutrient recycling in oceans
18.07.2019 | Rutgers University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms

Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.

In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...

Im Focus: First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure

Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.

Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Heat flow through single molecules detected

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Heat transport through single molecules

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Welcome Committee for Comets

19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>