Bioinspired designs offer a viable solution to the design challenges of micro air vehicles (MAVs) desired to operate in the same size region under similar conditions as flying vertebrates and insects. Inspired by our previous studies of tethered live dragonflies, here, a quantitative characterization of the unsteady aerodynamic features of a live, freely flying dragonfly under well-established level flight condition will be presented. In particular with regard of the span-wise features of vortex interactions between the fore- and hind-pairs of wings, that highly contributes to the flight agility and efficiency of dragonflies. Flow fields of free flying dragonflies in still air have been measured by time-resolved stereo particle image velocimetry (TRS_PIV). A specifically designed dark flight chamber has been built, where hand hold dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) were released and made to fly nearly parallel to the measurement plane toward a guiding light. Realistic kinematics of the dragonfly wings in free flight were measured by filming with 2 synchronized high-speed video cameras. Using the recorded images, several dozens of landmarks on the fore- and hind-wing surfaces and several landmarks on the body were traced with high precision and the three-dimensional coordinates were then reconstructed with a direct linear transformation (DLT) method. Using the reconstructed wing-body model, Navier-Stokes-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analyses, with wing shapes prescribed based on the experimental measurement, dynamically moving multi blocked, and an overset-grid system were conducted. The numerical results are in overall agreement with the PIV data, and the combined numerical and experimental approach offers valuable insight into aerodynamic analyses. The results show that the interaction with the forewing leading edge vortex (LEV) strongly influences the flow structures around the inner spanwise region of the hindwing, while aerodynamic enhancement via vortex capture in the outer span is observed. The interaction depends not solely on wing phasing, geometrical arrangement, but also the flight mission.

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