Simulating avian wingbeat kinematics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inverse dynamics methods are used to simulate avian wingbeats in varying flight conditions. A geometrically scalable multi-segment bird model is constructed, and optimisation techniques are employed to determine segment motions that generate desired aerodynamic force coefficients with minimal mechanical power output. The results show that wingbeat kinematics vary gradually with changes in cruise speed, which is consistent with experimental data. Optimised solutions for cruising flight of the pigeon suggest that upstroke wing retraction is used as a method of saving energy. Analysis of the aerodynamic force coefficient variation in high and low speed cruise leads to the proposal that a suitable gait metric should include both thrust and lift generation during each half-stroke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3191-3198
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biomechanics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Inverse dynamics
  • Bird flight
  • Avian gait
  • Predictive simulation


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