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The aerodynamic effects of wing rotation and a revised quasi-steady model of flapping flight
Sanjay P. Sane, Michael H. Dickinson


We used a dynamically scaled model insect to measure the rotational forces produced by a flapping insect wing. A steadily translating wing was rotated at a range of constant angular velocities, and the resulting aerodynamic forces were measured using a sensor attached to the base of the wing. These instantaneous forces were compared with quasi-steady estimates based on translational force coefficients. Because translational and rotational velocities were constant, the wing inertia was negligible, and any difference between measured forces and estimates based on translational force coefficients could be attributed to the aerodynamic effects of wing rotation. By factoring out the geometry and kinematics of the wings from the rotational forces, we determined rotational force coefficients for a range of angular velocities and different axes of rotation. The measured coefficients were compared with a mathematical model developed for two-dimensional motions in inviscid fluids, which we adapted to the three-dimensional case using blade element theory. As predicted by theory, the rotational coefficient varied linearly with the position of the rotational axis for all angular velocities measured. The coefficient also, however, varied with angular velocity, in contrast to theoretical predictions. Using the measured rotational coefficients, we modified a standard quasi-steady model of insect flight to include rotational forces, translational forces and the added mass inertia. The revised model predicts the time course of force generation for several different patterns of flapping kinematics more accurately than a model based solely on translational force coefficients. By subtracting the improved quasi-steady estimates from the measured forces, we isolated the aerodynamic forces due to wake capture.

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