This paper describes the design of a flight simulator for analysing the systems level performance of a Dragonfly-Inspired Micro Air Vehicle (DIMAV). A quasi-steady blade element model is used to analyse the aerodynamic forces. Aerodynamic and environmental forces are then incorporated into a real world flight dynamics model to determine the dynamics of the DIMAV system. The paper also discusses the implementation of the flight simulator for analysing the manoeuvrability of a DIMAV, specifically several modes of flight commonly found in dragonflies. This includes take-off, roll turns and yaw turns. Our findings with the simulator are consistent with results from wind tunnel studies and slow motion cinematography of dragonflies. In the take-off mode of flight, we see a strong dependence of take-off accelerations with flapping frequency. An increase in wing-beat frequency of 10% causes the maximum vertical acceleration to increase by 2g which is similar to that of dragonflies in nature. For the roll and yaw modes of manoeuvring, asymmetrical inputs are applied between the left and right set of wings. The flapping amplitude is increased on the left pair of wings which causes a time averaged roll rate to the right of 1.76rad/s within two wing beats. In the yaw mode, the stroke plane angle is reduced in the left pair of wings to initiate the yaw manoeuvre. In two wing beats, the time averaged yaw rate is 2.54rad/s.
Insects are the most diverse natural flyers in nature, being able to hover and perform agile manoeuvres. Dragon- flies in particular are aggressive flyers, attaining accelerations of up to 4g. Flight in all insects requires demanding aerodynamic and inertial loads be overcome. It has been proposed that resonance is a primary mechanism for reducing energy costs associated with flapping flight, by storing energy in an elastic thorax and releasing it on the following half-stroke. Certainly in insect flight motors dominated by inertial loads, such a mechanism would be extremely beneficial. However in highly manoeuvrable, aerodynamically dominated flyers, such as the dragonfly, the use of elastic storage members requires further investigation. We show that employing resonant mechanisms in a real world configuration produces minimal energy savings that are further reduced by 50 to 133% across the
operational flapping frequency band of the dragonfly. Using a simple harmonic oscillator analysis to represent the dynamics of a dragonfly, we further demonstrate a reduction in manoeuvring limits of ∼1.5 times for a system
employing elastic mechanisms. This is in contrast to the potential power reductions of √2/2 from regulating
aerodynamics via active wing articulation. Aerodynamic means of energy storage provides flexibility between an energy efficient hover state and a manoeuvrable state capable of large accelerations. We conclude that active wing articulation is preferable to resonance for aerodynamically dominated natural flyers.