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Interface Focus. 2017 Feb 6;7(1):20160080. doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2016.0080.

Dynamics and flight control of a flapping-wing robotic insect in the presence of wind gusts.

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Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering , City University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong.
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering , California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA 91125 , USA.


With the goal of operating a biologically inspired robot autonomously outside of laboratory conditions, in this paper, we simulated wind disturbances in a laboratory setting and investigated the effects of gusts on the flight dynamics of a millimetre-scale flapping-wing robot. Simplified models describing the disturbance effects on the robot's dynamics are proposed, together with two disturbance rejection schemes capable of estimating and compensating for the disturbances. The proposed methods are experimentally verified. The results show that these strategies reduced the root-mean-square position errors by more than 50% when the robot was subject to 80 cm s-1 horizontal wind. The analysis of flight data suggests that modulation of wing kinematics to stabilize the flight in the presence of wind gusts may indirectly contribute an additional stabilizing effect, reducing the time-averaged aerodynamic drag experienced by the robot. A benchtop experiment was performed to provide further support for this observed phenomenon.


disturbance; flapping wings; flight control; flight dynamics; robotics; wind gusts

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