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Air Force

Biomimetic Flapping-Wing Micro Air Vehicles

A tail-less, biomimetric flapping wing micro air vehicle that achieves multiple degrees of freedom without adding mechanical actuators

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Biomimetic Flapping-Wing Micro Air VehiclesMost birds and many insects use periodic wing motion to propel themselves and maneuver. Most conventional flying machines are propelled by rotating machinery controlled by rotors or movable wings. Many of the first generation, powered FWMAVs effectively replaced rotational propulsion modes with flapping wings and maintained control using conventional aerodynamic control surfaces, or in some cases, rotors.

AFRL researchers have designed and developed a tail-less, biomimetic FWMAV that is controlled by utilizing the motion of the flapping wings themselves. By manipulating a few variables that govern the periodic motion of two wings, the time-averaged forces and moments that are applied to the FWMAV can be directly controlled. A resulting implication is that the number of vehicle degrees of freedom controlled can exceed the number of actuators that physically exist on the FWMAV, thereby shifting complexity from mechanical elements to software. Present levels of development allow roll and yaw rotations and horizontal and vertical translations to be controlled using two brushless DC motors or piezoelectric actuators that drive each wing independently. A video of a lecture about the AFRL project can be viewed at: http://www.ifac2011.org/d-b-doman (link is external).

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