A Literature Review on Bounding Flight in Birds With Applications to Micro Uninhabited Air Vehicles
DEFENCE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ORGANISATION VICTORIA (AUSTRALIA) AERONAUTICAL AND MARITIME RESEARCH LAB
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Bounding flight is an intermittent flight pattern observed in small birds, in which periods of flapping flight alternate with periods of wings-folded flight. It has been suggested that this flight pattern could be adopted by micro uninhabited air vehicles microUAV to improve their flight characteristics. In response to this suggestion, a literature review of the bounding flight of birds has been undertaken. Many authors have attempted to explain why birds adopt bounding flight. Hypotheses include the possibility that bounding flight is aerodynamically more efficient than continuous flapping, level flight that bounding flight is used to counter a chemical imbalance in the flight muscles or that bounding flight forms a compromise between aerodynamic and muscular constraints. These hypotheses are based on mainly circumstantial evidence. Birds have been observed to bound at a range of airspeeds, during both short and long range flights, and while hovering. However, no single hypothesis is adequate to explain bounding flight over all of these flight regimes. It is possible that an alternate explanation exists. While not sufficient to explain all observations of bounding flight in birds, the suggested hypotheses may have applications for microUAVs. In particular, the suggestion that bounding flight is aerodynamically more efficient than level flight could potentially be exploited in the design of a microUAV. Improvements in the flight characteristics of microUAVs, potentially through the adoption of bounding flight, will be an important step towards the development of an operational microUAV for use in defence applications.
- Pilotless Aircraft