The Development of a Miniature Flexible Flapping Wing Mechanism for use in a Robotic Air Vehicle
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In this study a mechanism which produced flapping and pitching motions was designed and fabricated. These motions were produced by using a single electric motor and by exploiting flexible structures. The aerodynamic forces generated by flexible membrane wings were measured using a two degree of freedom force balance. This force balance measured the aerodynamic forces of lift and thrust. Two sets of wings with varying flexibility were made. Lift and thrust measurements were acquired as the mechanism flapped the wings in a total of thirteen cases. These thirteen cases consisted of zero velocity free stream conditions as well as forward flight conditions of five meters per second. In addition, flapping frequency was varied from two Hertz to four Hertz, while angle of attack offsets varied from zero degrees to fifteen degrees. The four most interesting conditions for both sets of wings were explored in more detail. For each of these conditions, high-speed video of the flapping wing was taken. The images from the video were also correlated with cycle averaged aerodynamic forces produced by the mechanism. Several observations were made regarding the behavior of flexible flapping wings that should aid in the design of future flexible flapping wing vehicles.