Aerodynamics of flapping wings – Aero-NAV project final report


  1. Lesage, F.
  2. Hamel, N.
  3. Yuan, W.
  4. Zdunich, P
  5. Lee. R.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Valcartier, Valcartier QUE (CAN);National Research Council, Montreal QUE (CAN) Biotechnology Research Inst
The development of a new class of military systems known as Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) (7.5 cm and 10 g) is possible in the not too distant future as a result of technological progress in a number of areas. The NAVs will likely use flapping wings as there is strong evidence that, for very small craft, flapping-wing performance is superior to other options due to dynamic effects. This report summarizes the work done under the Aero-NAV project, a Technology Investment Fund project that investigated flapping wing aerodynamics for NAV applications. A vehicle concept was defined in order for the project to focus on particular dimensions, motion characteristics, and performance parameters. From this concept, simpler test cases were defined to assist in understanding the physical phenomena. Tools and capabilities were developed by combining high-accuracy predictions and experimentations with engineering modelling. The detailed flow physics were captured using a highly accurate unsteady CFD solution at low Reynolds number. A tailored experimental facility (water tunnel at NRC) was developed for flapping wings operating at high frequency with a complex 3-dimensional pattern. A less computationally intensive engineering-type method (Vortex Lattice Method) capable of capturing the fundamental aerodynamics and approximating the forces and moments generated over a wide range of wing motions, was developed and used to identify optimum wing shape and motion. Optimization results were obtained f

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flapping wings;nano air vehicle;flow physics;water tunnel;flexible wings;NAV
Report Number
DRDC-VALCARTIER-TR-2013-012 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Aug 2013
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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