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Artificial evolution of the morphology and kinematics in a flapping-wing mini UAV

Abstract : Birds demontrate that Flapping-wing flight (FWF) is a versatile flight mode, compatible with hovering, forward flight, and gliding to save energy. This extended flight domain would be especially useful on mini UAVs. However, design is challenging because aerodynamic efficiency is conditionned by complex movements of the wings, and because many interactions exist between morphological (wing area, aspect ratio) and kinematic parameters (flapping frequency, stroke amplitude, wing unfolding). Here we used Artificial Evolution to optimise these morpho-kinematic features on a simulated 1 kg UAV, equipped with wings articulated at the shoulder and wrist. Flight tests were conducted in a dedicated steady aerodynamics simulator. Parameters generating horizontal flight for minimal mechanical power were retained. Results showed that flight at medium speed (10-12 m/s) can be obtained for reasonnable mechanical power (20 W/kg), while flight at higher speed (16-20 m/s) implied increased power (30-50 W/kg). Flight at low speed (6-8 m/s) necessitated unrealistic power levels (70-500 W/kg), probably because our simulator neglected unsteady aerodynamics. The underlying adaptation of morphology and kinematics to varying flight speed were compared to available biological data on the flight of birds. 2
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Emmanuel Margerie, Jean-Baptiste Mouret, Stephane Doncieux, Jean-Arcady Meyer. Artificial evolution of the morphology and kinematics in a flapping-wing mini UAV. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, IOP Publishing, 2007, 2 (4), pp.65-82. ⟨10.1088/1748-3182/2/4/002⟩. ⟨hal-02986347⟩

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