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J Theor Biol. 2010 May 21;264(2):538-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.02.018. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Dipteran insect flight dynamics. Part 1 Longitudinal motion about hover.

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Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


This paper presents a reduced-order model of longitudinal hovering flight dynamics for dipteran insects. The quasi-steady wing aerodynamics model is extended by including perturbation states from equilibrium and paired with rigid body equations of motion to create a nonlinear simulation of a Drosophila-like insect. Frequency-based system identification tools are used to identify the transfer functions from biologically inspired control inputs to rigid body states. Stability derivatives and a state space linear system describing the dynamics are also identified. The vehicle control requirements are quantified with respect to traditional human pilot handling qualities specification. The heave dynamics are found to be decoupled from the pitch/fore/aft dynamics. The haltere-on system revealed a stabilized system with a slow (heave) and fast subsidence mode, and a stable oscillatory mode. The haltere-off (bare airframe) system revealed a slow (heave) and fast subsidence mode and an unstable oscillatory mode, a modal structure in agreement with CFD studies. The analysis indicates that passive aerodynamic mechanisms contribute to stability, which may help explain how insects are able to achieve stable locomotion on a very small computational budget.

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