Siara Hunt

Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Drakunov

First Committee Member

Dr. Gudmundsson

Second Committee Member

Dr. Prazenica


Biological flight encapsulates 400 million years of evolutionary ingenuity and thus is the most efficient way to fly. If an engineering pursuit is not adhering to biomimetic inspiration, then it is probably not the most efficient design. An aircraft that is inspired by bird or other biological modes of flight is called an ornithopter and is the original design of the first airplanes. Flapping wings hold much engineering promise with the potential to produce lift and thrust simultaneously. In this research, modeling and simulation of a flapping wing vehicle is generated. The purpose of this research is to develop a control algorithm for a model describing flapping wing robotics. The modeling approach consists of initially considering the simplest possible model and subsequently building models of increasing complexity. This research finds that a proportional derivative feedback and feedforward controller applied to a nonlinear model is the most practical controller for a flapping system. Due to the complex aerodynamics of ornithopter flight, modeling and control are very difficult. Overall, this project aims to analyze and simulate different forms of biological flapping flight and robotic ornithopters, investigate different control methods, and also acquire understanding of the hardware of a flapping wing aerial vehicle.