Document Type thesis Author Name Taylor, Sarah E Email Address sarahtaylor1985 at gmail.com URN etd-052109-141751 Title Biologically Inspired Wing Planform Optimization Degree MS Department Mechanical Engineering Advisors David Olinger, Advisor Islam Hussein, Committee Member John Blandino, Committee Member Yiming Rong, Graduate Committee Rep Keywords low reynolds flight flow visualization low aspect ratio micro air vehicles planform wings mav mavs Date of Presentation/Defense 2009-05-15 Availability unrestricted
The goal of this project is to use inspiration acquired from bird flight to optimize the wing planform of micro-air vehicle wings. Micro-air vehicles are used by the military for surveillance and for search and rescue missions by civilian first-responders. These vehicles fly in the same low Reynolds number regime as birds, and have low aspect ratios similar to the pheasants and grouse of the order Galliformes. Conventional analysis is difficult for low Reynolds numbers, prompting use of biologically inspired methods of optimization. Genetic algorithms, which mimic the process of evolution in nature, were used to define wing shapes that were tested in wind tunnel experiments. In these experiments, lift-drag ratios at various angles of attack were measured on scale model micro-air vehicle wings (with variable length feathers) similar in shape to a bird wing. The planform shape of the scale model wing evolved in the wind tunnel flow over successive generations to ultimately produce superior wings with higher lift-drag ratios. The low angle of attack wings were easily optimized into a wing shape different from and potentially more efficient than the oft-used Zimmerman planform. The process was repeated for a higher angle of attack, near stall conditions, which yielded a different wing planform shape. Chord distributions of the optimized low angle of attack wings were found to closely match the same distributions of birds from the order Galliformes. Results from flow visualization studies meant to illuminate possible physics responsible for the higher lift-drag ratios were also investigated.
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