Insects are capable of a remarkable diversity of flight techniques. Dragonflies, in particular, are notable for their powerful aerial manoeuvres and endurance during prey catching or territory flights. While most insects such as flies, bees and wasps either reduced their hinds wings or mechanically coupled fore and hind wings, dragonflies have maintained two independent-controlled pairs of wings throughout their evolution. An extraordinary feature of dragonfly wing kinematics is wing phasing, the shift in flapping phase between the fore and hind wing periods. Wing phasing has previously been associated with an increase in thrust production, readiness for manoeuvrability and hunting performance. Recent studies have shown that wing phasing in tandem wings produces a twofold modulation in hind wing lift, but slightly reduces the maximum combined lift of fore and hind wings, compared to two wings flapping in isolation. Despite this disadvantage, however, wing phasing is effective in improving aerodynamic efficiency during flight by the removal of kinetic energy from the wake. Computational analyses demonstrate that this increase in flight efficiency may save up to 22% aerodynamic power expenditure compared to insects flapping only two wings. In terms of engineering, energetic benefits in four-wing flapping are of substantial interest in the field of biomimetic aircraft design, because the performance of man-made air vehicles is often limited by high-power expenditure rather than by lift production. This manuscript provides a summary on power expenditures and aerodynamic efficiency in flapping tandem wings by investigating wing phasing in a dynamically scaled robotic model of a hovering dragonfly.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 9, 2008
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