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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31913

Title: Kinematic Optimization in Birds, Bats and Ornithopters
Authors: Reichert, Todd
Advisor: DeLaurier, James D.
Department: Aerospace Science and Engineering
Keywords: Ornithopter
Unsteady aerodynamics
Flapping wing flight
Vortex panel method
Non-linear finite element
Propulsive efficiency
Issue Date: 11-Jan-2012
Abstract: Birds and bats employ a variety of advanced wing motions in the efficient production of thrust. The purpose of this thesis is to quantify the benefit of these advanced wing motions, determine the optimal theoretical wing kinematics for a given flight condition, and to develop a methodology for applying the results in the optimal design of flapping-wing aircraft (ornithopters). To this end, a medium-fidelity, combined aero-structural model has been developed that is capable of simulating the advanced kinematics seen in bird flight, as well as the highly non-linear structural deformations typical of high-aspect ratio wings. Five unique methods of thrust production observed in natural species have been isolated, quantified and thoroughly investigated for their dependence on Reynolds number, airfoil selection, frequency, amplitude and relative phasing. A gradient-based optimization algorithm has been employed to determined the wing kinematics that result in the minimum required power for a generalized aircraft or species in any given flight condition. In addition to the theoretical work, with the help of an extended team, the methodology was applied to the design and construction of the world's first successful human-powered ornithopter. The Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter, is used as an example aircraft to show how additional design constraints can pose limits on the optimal kinematics. The results show significant trends that give insight into the kinematic operation of natural species. The general result is that additional complexity, whether it be larger twisting deformations or advanced wing-folding mechanisms, allows for the possibility of more efficient flight. At its theoretical optimum, the efficiency of flapping-wings exceeds that of current rotors and propellers, although these efficiencies are quite difficult to achieve in practice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31913
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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