In vivo recording of aerodynamic force with an aerodynamic force platform: from drones to birds.
Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society
2015; 12 (104)
Flapping wings enable flying animals and biomimetic robots to generate elevated aerodynamic forces. Measurements that demonstrate this capability are based on experiments with tethered robots and animals, and indirect force calculations based on measured kinematics or airflow during free flight. Remarkably, there exists no method to measure these forces directly during free flight. Such in vivo recordings in freely behaving animals are essential to better understand the precise aerodynamic function of their flapping wings, in particular during the downstroke versus upstroke. Here, we demonstrate a new aerodynamic force platform (AFP) for non-intrusive aerodynamic force measurement in freely flying animals and robots. The platform encloses the animal or object that generates fluid force with a physical control surface, which mechanically integrates the net aerodynamic force that is transferred to the earth. Using a straightforward analytical solution of the Navier-Stokes equation, we verified that the method is accurate. We subsequently validated the method with a quadcopter that is suspended in the AFP and generates unsteady thrust profiles. These independent measurements confirm that the AFP is indeed accurate. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the AFP by studying aerodynamic weight support of a freely flying bird in vivo. These measurements confirm earlier findings based on kinematics and flow measurements, which suggest that the avian downstroke, not the upstroke, is primarily responsible for body weight support during take-off and landing.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rsif.2014.1283
View details for PubMedID 25589565