Experimental Investigation on the Aerodynamics of a Bio-inspired Flexible Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle

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Deng S., Percin M., van Oudheusden B., Remes B., Bijl H.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MICRO AIR VEHICLES, vol.6, no.2, pp.105-115, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


An experimental investigation on a 10 cm bio-inspired flexible Flapping-Wing Micro Air Vehicle (FWMAV) was conducted in both hovering and forward-flight conditions with the objective to characterize its aerodynamic performance. The measurements in hovering conditions were performed with the particular objective to explore the effect of different wing configurations (i.e. different aspect ratios and wing flexibilities), whereas forward flight tests in a wind tunnel were carried out to assess the aerodynamic performance of the FWMAV as a function of flow speed, flapping frequency and body angle. The cyclic variation of forces (lift and thrust) generated as a result of the wing flapping was captured by means of a high-resolution force sensor, in combination with high-speed imaging to track the wing motion. Results of measurements in hover show that the flapping frequency, aspect ratio and wing flexibility have a crucial impact on the efficiency and the force generation during the flapping cycle. An estimated flight envelop for the MAV's operation is defined from the data obtained in the wind tunnel measurements. Furthermore, additional tests on several brushless DC motors provide a feasible option in future engine selection and design.