Design and Performance of Insect-Scale Flapping-Wing Vehicles
Whitney, John Peter
MetadataShow full item record
CitationWhitney, John Peter. 2012. Design and Performance of Insect-Scale Flapping-Wing Vehicles. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractMicro-air vehicles (MAVs)—small versions of full-scale aircraft—are the product of a continued path of miniaturization which extends across many fields of engineering. Increasingly, MAVs approach the scale of small birds, and most recently, their sizes have dipped into the realm of hummingbirds and flying insects. However, these non-traditional biologically-inspired designs are without well-established design methods, and manufacturing complex devices at these tiny scales is not feasible using conventional manufacturing methods. This thesis presents a comprehensive investigation of new MAV design and manufacturing methods, as applicable to insect-scale hovering flight. New design methods combine an energy-based accounting of propulsion and aerodynamics with a one degree-of-freedom dynamic flapping model. Important results include analytical expressions for maximum flight endurance and range, and predictions for maximum feasible wing size and body mass. To meet manufacturing constraints, the use of passive wing dynamics to simplify vehicle design and control was investigated; supporting tests included the first synchronized measurements of real-time forces and three-dimensional kinematics generated by insect-scale flapping wings. These experimental methods were then expanded to study optimal wing shapes and high-efficiency flapping kinematics. To support the development of high-fidelity test devices and fully-functional flight hardware, a new class of manufacturing methods was developed, combining elements of rigid-flex printed circuit board fabrication with "pop-up book" folding mechanisms. In addition to their current and future support of insect-scale MAV development, these new manufacturing techniques are likely to prove an essential element to future advances in micro-optomechanics, micro-surgery, and many other fields.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9396428
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
Contact administrator regarding this item (to report mistakes or request changes)