55 research outputs found

    The effect of aspect ratio on the leading-edge vortex over an insect-like flapping wing

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    Insect wing shapes are diverse and a renowned source of inspiration for the new generation of autonomous flapping vehicles, yet the aerodynamic consequences of varying geometry is not well understood. One of the most defining and aerodynamically significant measures of wing shape is the aspect ratio, defined as the ratio of wing length (R) to mean wing chord (cˉ\bar{c}). We investigated the impact of aspect ratio, AR, on the induced flow field around a flapping wing using a robotic device. Rigid rectangular wings ranging from AR = 1.5 to 7.5 were flapped with insect-like kinematics in air with a constant Reynolds number (Re) of 1400, and a dimensionless stroke amplitude of 6.5cˉ6.5\bar{c} (number of chords traversed by the wingtip). Pseudo-volumetric, ensemble-averaged, flow fields around the wings were captured using particle image velocimetry at 11 instances throughout simulated downstrokes. Results confirmed the presence of a high-lift, separated flow field with a leading-edge vortex (LEV), and revealed that the conical, primary LEV grows in size and strength with increasing AR. In each case, the LEV had an arch-shaped axis with its outboard end originating from a focus-sink singularity on the wing surface near the tip. LEV detachment was observed for AR>1.5\mathrm{AR}\gt 1.5 around mid-stroke at 70%\sim 70\% span, and initiated sooner over higher aspect ratio wings. At AR>3\mathrm{AR}\gt 3 the larger, stronger vortex persisted under the wing surface well into the next half-stroke leading to a reduction in lift. Circulatory lift attributable to the LEV increased with AR up to AR = 6. Higher aspect ratios generated proportionally less lift distally because of LEV breakdown, and also less lift closer to the wing root due to the previous LEV's continuing presence under the wing. In nature, insect wings go no higher than AR5,\mathrm{AR}\sim 5, likely in part due to architectural and physiological constraints but also because of the reducing aerodynamic benefits of high AR wings

    A CFD-informed quasi-steady model of flapping-wing aerodynamics

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    Aerodynamic performance and agility during flapping flight are determined by the combination of wing shape and kinematics. The degree of morphological and kinematic optimization is unknown and depends upon a large parameter space. Aimed at providing an accurate and computationally inexpensive modelling tool for flapping-wing aerodynamics, we propose a novel CFD (computational fluid dynamics)-informed quasi-steady model (CIQSM), which assumes that the aerodynamic forces on a flapping wing can be decomposed into quasi-steady forces and parameterized based on CFD results. Using least-squares fitting, we determine a set of proportional coefficients for the quasi-steady model relating wing kinematics to instantaneous aerodynamic force and torque; we calculate power as the product of quasi-steady torques and angular velocity. With the quasi-steady model fully and independently parameterized on the basis of high-fidelity CFD modelling, it is capable of predicting flapping-wing aerodynamic forces and power more accurately than the conventional blade element model (BEM) does. The improvement can be attributed to, for instance, taking into account the effects of the induced downwash and the wing tip vortex on the force generation and power consumption. Our model is validated by comparing the aerodynamics of a CFD model and the present quasi-steady model using the example case of a hovering hawkmoth. This demonstrates that the CIQSM outperforms the conventional BEM while remaining computationally cheap, and hence can be an effective tool for revealing the mechanisms of optimization and control of kinematics and morphology in flapping-wing flight for both bio-flyers and unmanned aerial systems

    Petiolate wings: effects on the leading-edge vortex in flapping flight

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    The wings of many insect species including crane flies and damselflies are petiolate (on stalks), with the wing planform beginning some distance away from the wing hinge, rather than at the hinge. The aerodynamic impact of flapping petiolate wings is relatively unknown, particularly on the formation of the lift-augmenting leading-edge vortex (LEV): a key flow structure exploited by many insects, birds and bats to enhance their lift coefficient. We investigated the aerodynamic implications of petiolation P using particle image velocimetry flow field measurements on an array of rectangular wings of aspect ratio 3 and petiolation values of P = 1–3. The wings were driven using a mechanical device, the ‘Flapperatus’, to produce highly repeatable insect-like kinematics. The wings maintained a constant Reynolds number of 1400 and dimensionless stroke amplitude Λ* (number of chords traversed by the wingtip) of 6.5 across all test cases. Our results showed that for more petiolate wings the LEV is generally larger, stronger in circulation, and covers a greater area of the wing surface, particularly at the mid-span and inboard locations early in the wing stroke cycle. In each case, the LEV was initially arch-like in form with its outboard end terminating in a focus-sink on the wing surface, before transitioning to become continuous with the tip vortex thereafter. In the second half of the wing stroke, more petiolate wings exhibit a more detached LEV, with detachment initiating at approximately 70% and 50% span for P = 1 and 3, respectively. As a consequence, lift coefficients based on the LEV are higher in the first half of the wing stroke for petiolate wings, but more comparable in the second half. Time-averaged LEV lift coefficients show a general rise with petiolation over the range tested.This work was supported by an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship to R.J.B. (EP/H004025/1)

    Insect and insect-inspired aerodynamics: unsteadiness, structural mechanics and flight control

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    Flying insects impress by their versatility and have been a recurrent source of inspiration for engineering devices. A large body of literature has focused on various aspects of insect flight, with an essential part dedicated to the dynamics of flapping wings and their intrinsically unsteady aerodynamic mechanisms. Insect wings flex during flight and a better understanding of structural mechanics and aeroelasticity is emerging. Most recently, insights from solid and fluid mechanics have been integrated with physiological measurements from visual and mechanosensors in the context of flight control in steady airs and through turbulent conditions. We review the key recent advances concerning flight in unsteady environments and how the multi-body mechanics of the insect structure — wings and body — are at the core of the flight control question. The issues herein should be considered when applying bio-informed design principles to robotic flapping wings

    Application of digital particle image velocimetry to insect aerodynamics: measurement of the leading-edge vortex and near wake of a Hawkmoth.

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    Some insects use leading-edge vortices to generate high lift forces, as has been inferred from qualitative smoke visualisations of the flow around their wings. Here we present the first Digital Particle Image Velocimetry (DPIV) data and quantitative analysis of an insect’s leading-edge vortex and near wake at two flight speeds. This allows us to describe objectively 2D slices through the flow field of a tethered Tobacco Hawkmoth (Manduca sexta). The near-field vortex wake appears to braodly resemble elliptical vortex loops. The presence of a leading-edge vortex towards the end of the downstroke is found to coincide with peak upward force production measured by a six-component force–moment balance. The topology of Manduca’s leading-edge vortex differs from that previously described because late in the downstroke, the structure extends continuously from wingtip across the thorax to the other wingtip

    Wake Development behind Paired Wings with Tip and Root Trailing Vortices: Consequences for Animal Flight Force Estimates

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    Recent experiments on flapping flight in animals have shown that a variety of unrelated species shed a wake behind left and right wings consisting of both tip and root vortices. Here we present an investigation using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) of the behaviour and interaction of trailing vortices shed by paired, fixed wings that simplify and mimic the wake of a flying animal with a non-lifting body. We measured flow velocities at five positions downstream of two adjacent NACA 0012 aerofoils and systematically varied aspect ratio, the gap between the wings (corresponding to the width of a non-lifting body), angle of attack, and the Reynolds number. The range of aspect ratios and Reynolds number where chosen to be relevant to natural fliers and swimmers, and insect flight in particular. We show that the wake behind the paired wings deformed as a consequence of the induced flow distribution such that the wingtip vortices convected downwards while the root vortices twist around each other. Vortex interaction and wake deformation became more pronounced further downstream of the wing, so the positioning of PIV measurement planes in experiments on flying animals has an important effect on subsequent force estimates due to rotating induced flow vectors. Wake deformation was most severe behind wings with lower aspect ratios and when the distance between the wings was small, suggesting that animals that match this description constitute high-risk groups in terms of measurement error. Our results, therefore, have significant implications for experimental design where wake measurements are used to estimate forces generated in animal flight. In particular, the downstream distance of the measurement plane should be minimised, notwithstanding the animal welfare constraints when measuring the wake behind flying animals

    The c(4×4)–a(1×3) surface reconstruction transition on InSb(001) : static versus dynamic conditions

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    The transition between the a(1 × 3) and c(4 × 4) surface reconstructions of InSb(0 0 1) has been carefully monitored by reflection high energy electron diffraction as a function of temperature and Sb2 flux, without incident In flux. Arrhenius-like behaviour is observed across the whole range of Sb2 fluxes and temperatures, allowing accurate internal calibration of substrate temperature. This behaviour is in contrast to aggregated data obtained under dynamic molecular beam epitaxy conditions, which show two regimes rather than a single Arrhenius-like phase boundary. The results are explained qualitatively by the atomistic kinetics in static versus dynamic conditions

    High aerodynamic lift from the tail reduces drag in gliding raptors

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    Many functions have been postulated for the aerodynamic role of the avian tail during steady-state flight. By analogy with conventional aircraft, the tail might provide passive pitch stability if it produced very low or negative lift. Alternatively, aeronautical principles might suggest strategies that allow the tail to reduce inviscid, induced drag: if the wings and tail act in different horizontal planes, they might benefit from biplane-like aerodynamics; if they act in the same plane, lift from the tail might compensate for lift lost over the fuselage (body), reducing induced drag with a more even downwash profile. However, textbook aeronautical principles should be applied with caution because birds have highly capable sensing and active control, presumably reducing the demand for passive aerodynamic stability, and, because of their small size and low flight speeds, operate at Reynolds numbers two orders of magnitude below those of light aircraft. Here, by tracking up to 20,000, 0.3 mm neutrally buoyant soap bubbles behind a gliding barn owl, tawny owl and goshawk, we found that downwash velocity due to the body/tail consistently exceeds that due to the wings. The downwash measured behind the centreline is quantitatively consistent with an alternative hypothesis: that of constant lift production per planform area, a requirement for minimizing viscous, profile drag. Gliding raptors use lift distributions that compromise both inviscid induced drag minimization and static pitch stability, instead adopting a strategy that reduces the viscous drag, which is of proportionately greater importance to lower Reynolds number fliers

    Bird wings act as a suspension system that rejects gusts

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    Musculoskeletal systems cope with many environmental perturbations without neurological control. These passive preflex responses aid animals to move swiftly through complex terrain. Whether preflexes play a substantial role in animal flight is uncertain. We investigated how birds cope with gusty environments and found that their wings can act as a suspension system, reducing the effects of vertical gusts by elevating rapidly about the shoulder. This preflex mechanism rejected the gust impulse through inertial effects, diminishing the predicted impulse to the torso and head by 32% over the first 80 ms, before aerodynamic mechanisms took effect. For each wing, the centre of aerodynamic loading aligns with the centre of percussion, consistent with enhancing passive inertial gust rejection. The reduced motion of the torso in demanding conditions simplifies crucial tasks, such as landing, prey capture and visual tracking. Implementing a similar preflex mechanism in future small-scale aircraft will help to mitigate the effects of gusts and turbulence without added computational burden

    Recent progress on the flight of dragonflies and damselflies

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    Remarkable flight performance is key to the survival of adult Odonata. They integrate varied three-dimensional architectures and kinematics of the wings, unsteady aerodynamics, and sensory feedback control in order to achieve agile flight. Therefore, a diverse range of approaches are necessary to understand their flight strategy comprehensively. Recently, new data have been presented in several key areas in Odonata such as measurement of surface topographies, computational fluid dynamic analyses, quantitative flow visualisation using particle image velocimetry, and optical tracking of free flight trajectories in laboratory environments. In this paper, we briefly review those findings alongside more recent studies that have advanced our understanding of the flight mechanics of Odonata still further