Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 30569
Numerical Study of Flapping-Wing Flight of Hummingbird Hawkmoth during Hovering: Longitudinal Dynamics

Authors: Yeo Khoon Seng, Yao Jie


In recent decades, flapping wing aerodynamics has attracted great interest. Understanding the physics of biological flyers such as birds and insects can help improve the performance of micro air vehicles. The present research focuses on the aerodynamics of insect-like flapping wing flight with the approach of numerical computation. Insect model of hawkmoth is adopted in the numerical study with rigid wing assumption currently. The numerical model integrates the computational fluid dynamics of the flow and active control of wing kinematics to achieve stable flight. The computation grid is a hybrid consisting of background Cartesian nodes and clouds of mesh-free grids around immersed boundaries. The generalized finite difference method is used in conjunction with single value decomposition (SVD-GFD) in computational fluid dynamics solver to study the dynamics of a free hovering hummingbird hawkmoth. The longitudinal dynamics of the hovering flight is governed by three control parameters, i.e., wing plane angle, mean positional angle and wing beating frequency. In present work, a PID controller works out the appropriate control parameters with the insect motion as input. The controller is adjusted to acquire desired maneuvering of the insect flight. The numerical scheme in present study is proven to be accurate and stable to simulate the flight of the hummingbird hawkmoth, which has relatively high Reynolds number. The PID controller is responsive to provide feedback to the wing kinematics during the hovering flight. The simulated hovering flight agrees well with the real insect flight. The present numerical study offers a promising route to investigate the free flight aerodynamics of insects, which could overcome some of the limitations of experiments.

Keywords: Aerodynamics, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Flight Control, flapping-wing flight

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 941


[1] Ellington, C.P., et al., Leading-edge vortices in insect flight. 1996.
[2] Brodsky, A., Vortex formation in the tethered flight of the peacock butterfly Inachis io L. (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) and some aspects of insect flight evolution. Journal of experimental biology, 1991. 161(1): p. 77-95.
[3] Lua, K., et al., On the aerodynamic characteristics of hovering rigid and flexible hawkmoth-like wings. Experiments in fluids, 2010. 49(6): p. 1263-1291.
[4] Sun, M. and J. Tang, Unsteady aerodynamic force generation by a model fruit fly wing in flapping motion. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2002. 205(1): p. 55-70.
[5] Miller, L.A. and C.S. Peskin, A computational fluid dynamics of clap and fling' in the smallest insects. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2005. 208(2): p. 195-212.
[6] Wu, D., K. Yeo, and T. Lim, A numerical study on the free hovering flight of a model insect at low Reynolds number. Computers & Fluids, 2014. 103: p. 234-261.
[7] Chew, C.S., K. Yeo, and C. Shu, A generalized finite-difference (GFD) ALE scheme for incompressible flows around moving solid bodies on hybrid meshfree–Cartesian grids. Journal of Computational Physics, 2006. 218(2): p. 510-548.
[8] Wang, X., et al., A SVD-GFD scheme for computing 3D incompressible viscous fluid flows. Computers & Fluids, 2008. 37(6): p. 733-746.
[9] Yu, P., et al., A three‐dimensional hybrid meshfree‐Cartesian scheme for fluid–body interaction. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2011. 88(4): p. 385-408.
[10] Wu, G. and L. Zeng, Measuring the kinematics of a free-flying hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) by a comb-fringe projection method. Acta Mechanica Sinica, 2010. 26(1): p. 67-71.