MURI – Biologically Inspired Flapping Flight

Sponsor: AFOSR (Doug Smith)
Collaborators: Wei Shyy (Univ of Michigan – PI), Jason Vance (College of Charleston)

The small size and proposed maneuverability of micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) provide immense potential to improve surveillance in the contexts of security and exploration of novel and/or remote landscapes. The success of MAVs will depend on the ability to vary aerodynamic output in response to perturbations, such as gusts of wind or turbulence associated with flight in heterogeneous environments.

This research investigates the kinematic and aerodynamic mechanisms of gust rejection employed by insects, in particular the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the stalk-eyed fly.

Multi-camera, high-speed videography is used to film animals during free-flight and simulated forward flight (via small-scale wind tunnel) as they encounter variable-strength gusts and turbulence. The three-dimensional wing and body kinematics are reconstructed from these video sequences, and the flight dynamics and control are modeled to characterize how insects mitigate environmental perturbations and develop strategies applicable to MAVs and other small-scale autonomous flying vehicles.

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