Multibody Model of an Ornithopter Conference Paper uri icon


  • Flapping-wing aircraft which mimic avian flight gaits, or ornithopters, are becoming increasingly popular as the size of avionics hardware shrinks amidst the persistent demand for smaller and more eficient flight vehicles. The development of an accurate model of the associated flight dynamics provides insight into the relevant physics and facilitates the use of simulation, system identification, and feedback control techniques. Analysis of inertial properties and previous flight data has led to the development of a multibody model, where the ornithopter is modeled as a collection of chains of rigid body linkages emanating from a central fuselage. The Boltzmann-Hamel equations of motion are employed to generate a state space model which is cast into a form canonical to the nonlinear robotics and adaptive control communities. Software implementation of the symbolic derivation and numerical integration of the equations of motion are discussed. Preliminary results are presented for the simulation of the ornithopter in straight and level flight using a simplified aerodynamics model, which illustrate the trends in measured flight data. Copyright 2009 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Grauer, J. A., & Hubbard, J.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Grauer, Jared A||Hubbard, James E Jr

publication date

  • January 2009