Comparison of the Hovering Efficiency of Rotating Wing and Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicles

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Abstract:

Trends exposing the aerodynamic efficiency of hover‐capable micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) were examined. Published data for several types of MAV concepts were reviewed; these concepts encompass conventional rotating wing configurations, cyclorotors, flotors, and entomopter‐like biomimetic flapping wings. The work also included assessments of the hovering performance of avian and entomological flyers. For each concept, published performance data were used to establish comparative trends for power loading as a function of the effective disk loading. No independent assessments of the quality or accuracy of the published measurements and/or calculations were performed. It is shown that the hovering efficiencies of MAV concepts lie on a simple correlation curve that is bounded by the theoretical levels of hovering performance as given by the well‐known momentum theory. All hover‐capable concepts that can achieve low disk loadings are shown to achieve relatively good power loadings. Such concepts, however, do not necessarily achieve the best levels of aerodynamic efficiency or figure of merit (FM). It is explained why the power loading, and not the FM, is the most objective basis on which the aerodynamic efficiency of hover‐capable devices should be compared. The results show that when compared on the basis of the same disk loading, the biomimetic flapping wing systems have, at least thus far, attained lower values of FM compared to those of rotor systems. Although avian and entomological flyers operate at very low effective disk loadings with good power loadings, the available measurements suggest that they do not always achieve very high values of FM.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4050/JAHS.55.025001

Affiliations: Department of Aerospace Engineering, Glenn L. Martin Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of the American Helicopter Society is the world's only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight technology. It is a peer-reviewed technical journal published quarterly by AHS International and presents innovative papers covering the state-of-the-art in all disciplines of rotorcraft design, research and development. (Please note that AHS members receive significant discounts on articles and subscriptions.)

    Journal subscribers who are AHS members log in here if you are not already logged in.

    Authors can find submission guidelines and related information on the AHS website.

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