In order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of flapping flight we are embarking on developing the computational capability to design and analyze flapping-wing flight vehicles. This bottom up capability allows us to consider simpler models of flapping and understand how various parameters affect will the flight characteristics of these vehicles.
The approach we consider for designing flapping wing vehicles incorporates a multifidelity toolset (see the tools description on this site for details). The tools considered are (1) HallOpt, (2) ASWING, (3) FastAero and (4) 3DG.
The multifidelity toolset is harnessed in a manner similar to fixed wing aircraft design in that, the design starts with a simple wake only analysis and ends with validation and refinement using full-blown computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The current method we are developing for designing flapping wings involves numerically predicting an efficient wake vorticity distribution for a particular flapping wing (similar to a Trefftz Plane analysis for fixed wing vehicles), and then using inverse design approaches to determine the detailsed shape characteristics (angle of attack, camber, etc.) of the morphing wing which produced that particular wake vorticity. We continue to expand this analysis to include considerations such as stability and control, as well as several other features of interest in flapping flight.
A recently published AIAA conference paper describes our strategy towards using a multifidelity computational framework for flapping flight analysis.
The current project has been funded by several different sources at different times. We are very thankful to the following funding sources:
Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Natural Science and Engineering Councile of Canada (NSERC), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.