Chordwise wing flexibility may passively
Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)
Center for Innovation and Engineering, Civil and Mechanical Engineering
Journal of the Royal Society Interface
Insect wings are flexible, and the dynamically deforming wing shape influences
the resulting aerodynamics and power consumption. However, the
influence of wing flexibility on the flight dynamics of insects is unknown.
Most stability studies in the literature consider rigid wings and conclude
that the hover equilibrium condition is unstable. The rigid wings possess
an unstable oscillatory mode mainly due to their pitch sensitivity to horizontal
velocity perturbations. Here, we show that a flapping wing flyer with
flexible wings exhibits stable hover equilibria. The free-flight insect flight
dynamics are simulated at the fruit fly scale in the longitudinal plane. The
chordwise wing flexibility is modelled as a linear beam. The twodimensional
Navier–Stokes equations are solved in a tight fluid–structure
integration scheme. For a range of wing flexibilities similar to live insects,
all eigenvalues of the system matrix about the hover equilibrium have negative
real parts. Flexible wings appear to stabilize the unstable mode by
passively deforming their wing shape in the presence of perturbations, generating
significantly more horizontal velocity damping and pitch rate
damping. These results suggest that insects may passively stabilize their
hover flight via wing flexibility, which can inform designs of synthetic
flapping wing robots.
Bluman, James E.; Sridhar, Madhu K.; and Kang, Chang-kwon, "Chordwise wing flexibility may passively" (2018). West Point Research Papers. 82.
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