Wing-pitching mechanism of hovering Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Song J, Luo H, Hedrick TL
Bioinspir Biomim. 2015 10 (1): 016007

PMID: 25599381 · DOI:10.1088/1748-3190/10/1/016007

In hovering flight, hummingbirds reverse the angle of attack of their wings through pitch reversal in order to generate aerodynamic lift during both downstroke and upstroke. In addition, the wings may pitch during translation to further enhance lift production. It is not yet clear whether these pitching motions are caused by the wing inertia or actuated through the musculoskeletal system. Here we perform a computational analysis of the pitching dynamics by incorporating the realistic wing kinematics to determine the inertial effects. The aerodynamic effect is also included using the pressure data from a previous three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics simulation of a hovering hummingbird. The results show that like many insects, pitch reversal of the hummingbird is, to a large degree, caused by the wing inertia. However, actuation power input at the root is needed in the beginning of pronation to initiate a fast pitch reversal and also in mid-downstroke to enable a nose-up pitching motion for lift enhancement. The muscles on the wing may not necessarily be activated for pitching of the distal section. Finally, power analysis of the flapping motion shows that there is no requirement for substantial elastic energy storage or energy absorption at the shoulder joint.

MeSH Terms (10)

Acceleration Animals Biological Clocks Birds Computer Simulation Flight, Animal Models, Biological Oscillometry Rheology Wings, Animal

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