Nonlinear Aeroelasticity and Flight Dynamics of Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicles

Student :

Sponsor :

Weihua Su [Thesis][Profile]

Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI)


Flapping-wing micro air vehicles (MAVs) have the potential to revolutionize people’s capabilities of gathering information in environmental monitoring, homeland security, and other time sensitive areas. The goal of current research is to create a new computational solution necessary for the understanding and prediction of aeroelastic and flight dynamic effects of flapping-wing MAVs in unsteady flows at low Reynolds numbers.

  • A low-order, nonlinear, strain-based finite element framework is used for this investigation, named the University of Michigan’s Nonlinear Aeroelastic Simulation Toolbox (UM/NAST).


Low-order computational framework for flapping wing MAV simulations

  • UM/NAST, originally developed for the nonlinear aeroelasticity of fixed-wing aircraft, has been extended to be capable of modeling the wing flapping kinematics.


UM/NAST information flow in solving different aspects of the coupled nonlinear aeroelasticity and flight dynamics of very flexible aircraft

  • A refined aerodynamic model that considers leading-edge vortex shedding and wing-vortex interactions has been integrated into the framework.

  • Interactions between the vehicle aeroelasticity, wing flapping kinematics, and vehicle flight dynamics have been explored.