Wing Shape Optimization



Master Project EPFL


The Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory has developed a series of biologically inspired flying robots. One of the major challenges in the development of these robots is to keep the energy consumption during flight at a minimum. A promising approach is to adapt gliding flight as part of their locomotion strategy. However, to date, very little research has addressed gliding flight and its implications on the design of flying micro robots. In particular, no research has systematically explored the effect of wing morphology which is needed to perform efficient gliding flight in the Reynolds Number regime between 1000 and 10000. This Master Thesis will provide a first systematic exploration of the gliding performance of different wing shapes for micro robots. As a starting point, the project will focus on wing shapes found in proficient gliders in the animal kingdom and will test systematic variations of their wing shapes. The thesis will include the following work packages:

1) Extraction of wing shape of a first set of gliding butterflies (25 shapes) and variation of the forewing orientation.

2) Implementation of these shapes in a commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software.

3) Aerodynamical measurements of the shapes in CFD.

4) Aerodynamical measurements of the same shapes in our low Re number wind tunnel.

5) Validation of the CFD measurements and adaption of the CFD parameters to the wind tunnel experiments.

6) Systematic optimization of the wing shape in CFD and validation of the most promising set of wing shapes in the wind tunnel.

7) Reporting and presentation of the results