Automated aerodynamic performance estimates for flapping flight

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Quantifying aerodynamic performance for freely flying birds is inherently difficult to do without interfering with their natural flight. Many current methods thus combine kinematic parameters derived from high-­speed video with theoretical force and power models. However, these methods often require manual tracking of points in each frame of a video to obtain kinematic data [1, 2].

This project utilizes image processing techniques to automatically extract kinematic data (stroke angle and wingbeat timing) from high speed videos of Pacific parrotlets flying from perch to perch. To analyze aerodynamic performance, this data is then used to estimate power requirements based on actuator disc theory [3, 4].


Processing Pipeline





[1] Berg, A. M. and Biewener, A. A. (2010). Wing and body kinematics of takeoff and landing flight in the pigeon (Columba livia). J. Exp. Biol. 213, 1651-­1658.
[2] Hedrick, T. L. (2008). Software techniques for two-­ and three-­dimensional kinematic measurements of biological and biomimetic systems. Bioinsp. Biomim. 3, 034001.
[3] Ellington, C. P. (1984). The Aerodynamics of Hovering Insect Flight. V. A Vortex Theory. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. Biol. Sci. 305, 1122, 115-­144.
[4] Muijres, F.T., Spedding, G. R., Winter, Y. and Hedenstrom, A. (2011). Actuator disk model and span efficiency of flapping flight in bats based on time-­resolved PIV measurements. Exp. Fluids. 51, 511-­525.

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