Studying the Effect of the Tail on the Dynamics of a Flapping-Wing MAV using Free-Flight Data

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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The effects of the horizontal tail surface on the longitudinal dynamics of an or- nithopter were studied by systematically varying its surface area, aspect ratio and its longitudinal position. The objective is to improve the understanding of the tail effect on the behaviour of the ornithopter and to assess if simple models based on tail geometry can predict steady-state conditions and dynamic behaviour. A data- driven approach was adopted since no suitable theoretical models for ornithopter tail aerodynamics are available. Data was obtained through wind tunnel and free-flight experiments. Fourteen tail geometries were tested, at four positions with respect to the fl apping wings. Linearised models were used to study the effects of the tail on dynamic behaviour. The data shows that, within the tested ranges, increasing surface area or aspect ratio increases the steady-state velocity of the platform and improves pitch damping. Results also suggest that the maximum span width of the tail significantly influences the damping properties, especially when the distance between the tail and the flapping wings is large, which likely relates to the induced velocity profile of the flapping wings. Steady-state conditions can be predicted accurately based on tail geometry even when extrapolated slightly outside the original measurement range. Some trends were identified between model parameters and tail geometry, but more research is required before these trends can be applied as a design tool.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference
Subtitle of host publicationKissimmee, Florida
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-528-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event2018 AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference - Kissimmee, United States
Duration: 8 Jan 201812 Jan 2018


Conference2018 AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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