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Morphing Aerospace Vehicles and Structures by John Valasek

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3

Bio-Inspiration of Morphing for Micro Air Vehicles

Gregg Abate1 and Wei Shyy2

1Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin AFB, Florida, USA

2Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, PRC

3.1 Micro Air Vehicles

Micro air vehicles, or MAVs, are a relatively new class of flight vehicles made possible in the past 15 years by the ever-increasing advances in the micro-electronics industry coupled with continuing research in conventional aero-sciences. MAVs are a class of vehicles where the largest dimension is on the order of centimeters. The challenge for MAVs was set out by McMichael of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the mid-1990s (McMichael and Francis 1997). The challenge was to build and fly a MAV whose largest dimension was no greater than 15 centimeters. The issues associated with the fixed and flapping wing MAV aerodynamics are reviewed by Shyy et al. (1999). This challenge was met by both rigid wing platform exemplified by Aerovironment's Black Widow MAV (Grasmeyer and Keennon 2001), and flexible wing platform originated by researchers from the University of Florida (Ifju et al. 2002), and began a flurry of activity in this class of flight vehicle for the past 10 or more years.

MAVs are characterized by small vehicle size (O 10 cm or smaller), low flight speed (O 10 m/s), and low Reynolds number (O 1000–100,000), resulting in challenges not well addressed in the traditional aerospace literature. Aside from ...

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