Flight Testing of Novel Compliant Spines for Passive Wing Morphing on Ornithopters Conference Paper uri icon


  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are proliferating in both the civil and military markets. Flapping wing UAVs, or ornithopters, have the potential to combine the agility and maneuverability of rotary wing aircraft with excellent performance in low Reynolds number flight regimes. The purpose of this paper is to present new free flight experimental results for an ornithopter equipped with one degree of freedom (1DOF) compliant spines that were designed and optimized in terms of mass, maximum von-Mises stress, and desired wing bending deflections. The spines were inserted in an experimental ornithopter wing spar in order to achieve a set of desired kinematics during the up and down strokes of a flapping cycle. The ornithopter was flown at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the Air Force Research Laboratory Small Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS)indoor flight facility. Vicon motion tracking cameras were used to track the motion of the vehicle for five different wing configurations. The effect of the presence of the compliant spine on wing kinematics and leading edge spar deflection during flight is presented. Results show that the ornithopter with the compliant spine inserted in its wing reduced the body acceleration during the upstroke which translates into overall lift gains. 2012 AIAA.

name of conference

  • 54th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference

published proceedings

  • Collection of Technical Papers - AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference

author list (cited authors)

  • Wissa, A., Guerreiro, N., Grauer, J. A., Hubbard, J., Frecker, M., Altenbuchner, C., Tummala, Y., & Roberts, R.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Wissa, Aimy||Guerreiro, Nelson||Grauer, Jared A||Hubbard, James||Frecker, Mary||Altenbuchner, Cornelia||Tummala, Yashwanth||Roberts, Richard

publication date

  • April 2013