Conference paper Open Access

A Linearized Model for an Ornithopter in Gliding Flight: Experiments and Simulations

R. Lopez-Lopez; V. Perez-Sanchez; P. Ramon-Soria; A. Martín-Alcántara; R. Fernandez-Feria; B.C. Arrue; A. Ollero

This work studies the accuracy of a simple but effective analytical model for a flapping-wings UAV in longitudinal gliding flight configuration comparing it with experimental results of a real ornithopter. The aerodynamic forces are modeled following the linearized potential theory for a flat plate in gliding configuration, extended to flapping-wing episodes modeled also by the (now unsteady) linear potential theory, which are studied numerically. In the gliding configuration, the model reaches a steady-state descent at given terminal velocity and pitching and gliding angles, governed by the wings and tail position. In the flapping-wing configuration, it is noticed that the vehicle can increase its flight velocity and perform climbing episodes. A realistic simulation tool based on Unreal Engine 4 was developed to visualize the effect of the tail position and flapping frequencies and amplitudes on the ornithopter flight in real time. The paper also includes the experimental validation of the gliding flight and the data has been released for the community.

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