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Stable hovering of a jellyfish-like flying machine
Ristroph, L.; Childress, S. (2014). Stable hovering of a jellyfish-like flying machine. J. R. Soc. Interface 11(92): 7 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1098/rsif.2013.0992
In: Journal of the Royal Society. Interface. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 1742-5689 , more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    micro air vehicle, flight stability, flight control, biomimetics, unsteady aerodynamics

Authors  Top 
  • Ristroph, L.
  • Childress, S.

Abstract
    Ornithopters, or flapping-wing aircraft, offer an alternative to helicopters in achieving manoeuvrability at small scales, although stabilizing such aerial vehicles remains a key challenge. Here, we present a hovering machine that achieves self-righting flight using flapping wings alone, without relying on additional aerodynamic surfaces and without feedback control. We design, construct and test-fly a prototype that opens and closes four wings, resembling the motions of swimming jellyfish more so than any insect or bird. Measurements of lift show the benefits of wing flexing and the importance of selecting a wing size appropriate to the motor. Furthermore, we use high-speed video and motion tracking to show that the body orientation is stable during ascending, forward and hovering flight modes. Our experimental measurements are used to inform an aerodynamic model of stability that reveals the importance of centre-of-mass location and the coupling of body translation and rotation. These results show the promise of flapping-flight strategies beyond those that directly mimic the wing motions of flying animals.

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