Experimental investigation of an insect-based flapping wing hovering micro air vehicle Conference Paper uri icon


  • A differential-four-bar based flapping mechanism was designed and built to emulate insect wing kinematics with an active pitching ability for a hovering flapping-wing micro air vehicle (MAV). The flapping mechanism was designed to have symmetric maximum upstroke and downstroke motions. Numerous wings with the same planform area were built and tested using this mechanism. The wings were designed to be stiff in bending and compliant in torsion. The operating Reynolds numbers for these wings were 12,000-38,000. Lift and power measurements were obtained for each of these wings at frequencies ranging from 4 Hz to 10 Hz, for 65, 75 and 90 degrees pitch angles (at midstroke). The maximum lift obtained with one wing was 60 grams at a frequency of 10 Hz and at a pitch angle of 90 degrees. Vacuum chamber tests were conducted on wings so as to isolate the aerodynamic and inertial contributions to power. Typically inertial power contributed 40-60% of the total power cosumption. A motion caputre system (VICON) was utilized to track the motion of the wing, thus providing an insight into passive wing deformations. Flow visualization studies were carried out on these wings, which clearly showed the presence a leading edge vortex even at these relatively high Reynolds numbers (38,000). Finally, two such optimzied wings were implemented on a napping MAV weighing 56 grams and tethered hover was achieved. Copyright2010 by the American Helicopter Society International, Inc. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • AHS Aeromechanics Specialists Conference 2010

author list (cited authors)

  • Seshadri, P., Benedict, M., & Chopra, I.

complete list of authors

  • Seshadri, P||Benedict, M||Chopra, I

publication date

  • June 2010