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

Chirarattananon, Pakpong and Chen, Yufeng and Helbling, E. Farrell and Ma, Kevin Y. and Cheng, Richard and Wood, Robert J. (2017) Dynamics and flight control of a flapping-wing robotic insect in the presence of wind gusts. Interface Focus, 7 (1). Art. No. 20160080.. ISSN 2042-8898. PMCID PMC5206599. doi:10.1098/rsfs.2016.0080.

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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.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Chirarattananon, Pakpong0000-0003-0142-8394
Cheng, Richard0000-0001-8301-9169
Additional Information:© 2016 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. Published online 06/02/2017; Published in print 02/2017. One contribution of 19 to a theme issue ‘Coevolving advances in animal flight and aerial robotics’. We wish to thank N. Gravish for comments, discussions, and his assistance with videography during the experiments. Authors' contributions: P.C. conceived the study. P.C., Y.C., E.F.H., K.Y.M. and R.C. set up the experiments. P.C., Y.C. and E.F.H. performed the experiments. P.C. analysed the data and prepared the manuscript. R.J.W. supervised the study. R.J.W. and K.Y.M. edited the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication. We declare we have no competing interests. This work was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (award no. CMMI-1251729), and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:robotics, flapping wings, flight dynamics, flight control, wind gusts, disturbance
Issue or Number:1
PubMed Central ID:PMC5206599
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200427-100000333
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Chirarattananon P, Chen Y, Helbling EF, Ma KY, Cheng R, Wood RJ. 2017 Dynamics and flight control of a flapping-wing robotic insect in the presence of wind gusts. Interface Focus 7: 20160080.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102797
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:27 Apr 2020 17:13
Last Modified:05 Apr 2022 17:58

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