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Keywords:

  • Flapping Wing;
  • Skin Flexibility;
  • Lift;
  • Drag;
  • Angle of Attack;
  • Micro Air Vehicle

Abstract

As part of the ongoing research on micro air vehicles, the present work focuses on the effect of membrane flexibility on the aerodynamic performance of flexible latex flapping wings. Wings with membrane thicknesses 0.37, 0.28, and 0.13 mm are chosen, which are named as least flexible (A), flexible (B), and most flexible (C), respectively. The experiments are performed in an air chamber of size 1.5 m × 1.5 m × 1.5 m, facilitated with wind velocities up to 15 m/s. The time-averaged lift and drag as functions of flapping frequency, forward flight velocity, the angles of attack (AoA), and advance ratio (J). The novel electronic control system developed previously is used to monitor and measure the flapping frequency. It is found that the effect of flexibility on the aerodynamic performance mainly depends on the range of flight speed; at 7200 ≤ Re ≤ 18,000, the lift and drag increase with increase of flexibility, and at 18,000 ≤ Re ≤ 25,200, the lift decreases and drag increases with increase of flexibility. Hence latex compliant (Wing C) wings are advantageous in the low Re range, while the least flexible wing (Wing A) is preferable for higher range.