Dipteran wing motor-inspired flapping flight versatility and effectiveness enhancement

R. L. Harne, K. W. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Insects are a prime source of inspiration towards the development of small-scale, engineered, flapping wing flight systems. To help interpret the possible energy transformation strategies observed in Diptera as inspiration for mechanical flapping flight systems, we revisit the perspective of the dipteran wing motor as a bistable click mechanism and take a new, and more flexible, outlook to the architectural composition previously considered. Using a representative structural model alongside biological insights and cues from nonlinear dynamics, our analyses and experimental results reveal that a flight mechanism able to adjust motor axial support stiffness and compression characteristics may dramatically modulate the amplitude range and type of wing stroke dynamics achievable. This corresponds to significantly more versatile aerodynamic force generation without otherwise changing flapping frequency or driving force amplitude. Whether monostable or bistable, the axial stiffness is key to enhance compressed motor load bearing ability and aerodynamic efficiency, particularly compared with uncompressed linear motors. These findings provide new foundation to guide future development of bioinspired, flapping wing mechanisms for micro air vehicle applications, and may be used to provide insight to the dipteran muscle-to-wing interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20141367
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number104
StatePublished - Mar 6 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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