One of the holy grails of designing micro air vehicles or MAVs is to build a prototype that mimics a flying bird or insect. Why? Simply because evolution is the best designer of all, those designs that work flourish, those that don’t, well those species perish. Yes, that is the harsh reality of nature, but we can learn from its incredible time-tested research and development as each iteration serves a specific niche allowing for growth of the species.
Okay so, an MAV is a very small robotic airplane or flying device, yes, also built to serve a specific niche. In most cases built by robotics teams trying to prove concept, or their ability to use biomimicry to copy some sort of insect or bird. The ultimate goal would be to use these devices to do surveillance as the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ or camouflages as a biological equivalent such as a bird.
This turns out to be a little harder than it looks, but not impossible at all, in fact a few robotics teams have conquered the challenge and a few small defense contractors have pulled it off. Today you can buy small remote control bird-like models and fly them around to entertain yourself for kicks. Now then, often I myself consider things such as muscle memory materials and other strategies that might assist in the flapping of wings. Thus, came up with yet another concept, using repelling magnets on the wing tips of a small MAV.
How would this concept actually work? Well, using repelling magnets on the wing-tips of a flapping-wing micro-air vehicle would cause the wings to fly apart at a good rate of speed. How this would work is somewhat a unique concept. You’d hold the wings together between your thumb and fingers then let go and the wings would repel down until they hit again at the bottom of the stroke, once again repelling until the wings hit on the up-stroke and so on, flapping along. The mathematics for the best Reynold’s Number and use the Navier-Stokes equation would be employed to ensure the best possible efficiency.
In looking at other flapping wing designs, they often use little motors and gears, perhaps such strategies too could be employed to see that the system continued to operate and never reaches equilibrium, as is the problem with magnetic ‘free energy’ concepts which look great on paper but never actually come to fruition.
(1) Research Paper: “Numerical Simulation of Flapping Wings using a Panel Method and a High-Order Navier-Stokes Solver” by P. O. Persson, D. J. Willis, and J. Peraire. (Int. J. Numer. Meth. Engng 2011; 01:1-20).
(2) Research Paper: “The Numerical Simulation of Flapping Wings at Low Reynolds Numbers,” by Per-Olof Persson, David J. Willis, and Jaime Peraire. (48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition, January 4 – 7, 2010), AIAA 2010-724.