A quasi-steady lifting line theory for insect-like hovering flight

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    A novel lifting line formulation is presented for the quasi-steady aerodynamic evaluation of insect-like wings in hovering flight. The approach allows accurate estimation of aerodynamic forces from geometry and kinematic information alone and provides for the first time quantitative information on the relative contribution of induced and profile drag associated with lift production for insect-like wings in hover. The main adaptation to the existing lifting line theory is the use of an equivalent angle of attack, which enables capture of the steady non-linear aerodynamics at high angles of attack. A simple methodology to include nonideal induced effects due to wake periodicity and effective actuator disc area within the lifting line theory is included in the model. Low Reynolds number effects as well as the edge velocity correction required to account for different wing planform shapes are incorporated through appropriate modification of the wing section lift curve slope. The model has been successfully validated against measurements from revolving wing experiments and high order computational fluid dynamics simulations. Model predicted mean lift to weight ratio results have an average error of 4% compared to values from computational fluid dynamics for eight different insect cases. Application of an unmodified linear lifting line approach leads on average to a 60% overestimation in the mean lift force required for weight support, with most of the discrepancy due to use of linear aerodynamics. It is shown that on average for the eight insects considered, the induced drag contributes 22% of the total drag based on the mean cycle values and 29% of the total drag based on the mid half-stroke values.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0134972
    JournalP L o S One
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2015


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