Can scalable design of wings for flapping wing micro air vehicle be inspired by natural flyers?

Yanghai Nan, Bei Peng*, Yi Chen, Zhenyu Feng, Don McGlinchey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


Lift production is constantly a great challenge for flapping wing micro air vehicles (MAVs). Designing a workable wing, therefore, plays an essential role. Dimensional analysis is an effective and valuable tool in studying the biomechanics of flyers. In this paper, geometric similarity study is firstly presented. Then, the pw − AR ratio is defined and employed in wing performance estimation before the lumped parameter is induced and utilized in wing design. Comprehensive scaling laws on relation of wing performances for natural flyers are next investigated and developed via statistical analysis before being utilized to examine the wing design. Through geometric similarity study and statistical analysis, the results show that the aspect ratio and lumped parameter are independent on mass, and the lumped parameter is inversely proportional to the aspect ratio. The lumped parameters and aspect ratio of flapping wing MAVs correspond to the range of wing performances of natural flyers. Also, the wing performances of existing flapping wing MAVs are examined and follow the scaling laws. Last, the manufactured wings of the flapping wing MAVs are summarized. Our results will, therefore, provide a simple but powerful guideline for biologists and engineers who study the morphology of natural flyers and design flapping wing MAVs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9538328
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2018


  • flapping wing
  • MAVs
  • natural flyers
  • wing design


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