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Journal of Bionic Engineering ›› 2018, Vol. 15 ›› Issue (2): 379-396.doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42235-018-0029-5

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Research on Gliding Aerodynamic Effect of Deformable Membrane Wing for a Robotic Flying Squirrel

Xuepeng Li1, Wei Wang1*, Yifan Tang2, Linqing Wang1, Tao Bai3, Fei Zhao1, Yushen Bai4   

  1. 1. Robotics Institute, Beihang University, Beijing 100191, China
    2. School of Energy and Power Engineering, Beihang University, Beijing 100191, China
    3. Ministry-of-Education Key Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics, Beihang University, Beijing 100191, China
    4. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
  • Received:2017-10-10 Revised:2018-02-02 Online:2018-03-10 Published:2018-02-05
  • Contact: Wei Wang E-mail:wangweilab@buaa.edu.cn
  • About author:Xuepeng Li1, Wei Wang1*, Yifan Tang2, Linqing Wang1, Tao Bai3, Fei Zhao1, Yushen Bai4

Abstract: Inspired by creatures with membrane to obtain ultra-high gliding ability, this paper presents a robotic flying squirrel (a novel gliding robot) characterized as membrane wing and active membrane deformation. For deep understanding of membrane wing and gliding mechanism from a robotic system perspective, a simplified blocking aerodynamic model of the deformable membrane wing and CFD simulation are finished. In addition, a physical prototype is developed and wind tunnel experiments are carried out. The results show that the proposed membrane wing is able to support the gliding action of the robot. Meanwhile, factors including geometry characteristics, material property and wind speed are considered in the experiments to investigate the aerodynamic effects of the deformable membrane wing deeply. As a typical characteristic of robotic flying squirrel, deformation modes of the membrane wing not only affect the gliding ability, but also directly determine the effects of the posture adjustment. Moreover, different deformation modes of membrane wing are illustrated to explore the possible effects of active membrane deformation on the gliding performance. The results indicate that the de-formation modes have a significant impact on posture adjustment, which reinforces the rationality of flying squirrel’s gliding strategy and provides valuable information on prototype optimal design and control strategy in the actual gliding process.

Key words: deformable membrane wing, gliding mechanism, bionic robot, robotic flying squirrel, active membrane deformation