Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD.


Flapping wing Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) continues to be a growing field, with ongoing research into unsteady, low Re aerodynamics, micro-fabrication, and fluid-structure interaction. However, research into flapping wing control of such MAVs continues to lag. Existing research uniformly consists of proposed control laws that are validated by computer simulations of quasi-steady blade-element formulae. Such simulations use numerous assumptions and cannot be trusted to fully describe the flow physics. Instead, such control laws must be validated on hardware. Here, a novel control technique is proposed called Bi-harmonic Amplitude and Bias Modulation (BABM) which can generate forces and moments in 5 vehicle degrees of freedom with only two actuators. Several MAV prototypes were designed and manufactured with independently controllable wings capable of prescribing arbitrary wing trajectories. The forces and moments generated by a MAV utilizing the BABM control technique were measured on a 6-component balance. These experiments verified that a prototype can generate uncoupled forces and moments for motion in five degrees of freedom when using the BABM control technique, and that these forces can be approximated by quasi-steady blade-element formulae. Finally, the prototype performed preliminary controlled flight in constrained motion experiments, further demonstrating the feasibility of BABM.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number