Journal of Bionic Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 379–396 | Cite as

Research on Gliding Aerodynamic Effect of Deformable Membrane Wing for a Robotic Flying Squirrel

  • Xuepeng Li
  • Wei Wang
  • Yifan Tang
  • Linqing Wang
  • Tao Bai
  • Fei Zhao
  • Yushen Bai


Inspired by creatures with membrane to obtain ultra-high gliding ability, this paper presents a robotic flying squirrel (a novel gliding robot) characterized as membrane wing and active membrane deformation. For deep understanding of membrane wing and gliding mechanism from a robotic system perspective, a simplified blocking aerodynamic model of the deformable membrane wing and CFD simulation are finished. In addition, a physical prototype is developed and wind tunnel experiments are carried out. The results show that the proposed membrane wing is able to support the gliding action of the robot. Meanwhile, factors including geometry characteristics, material property and wind speed are considered in the experiments to investigate the aerodynamic effects of the deformable membrane wing deeply. As a typical characteristic of robotic flying squirrel, deformation modes of the membrane wing not only affect the gliding ability, but also directly determine the effects of the posture adjustment. Moreover, different deformation modes of membrane wing are illustrated to explore the possible effects of active membrane deformation on the gliding performance. The results indicate that the deformation modes have a significant impact on posture adjustment, which reinforces the rationality of flying squirrel’s gliding strategy and provides valuable information on prototype optimal design and control strategy in the actual gliding process.


robotic flying squirrel deformable membrane wing active membrane deformation gliding mechanism bionic robot 


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This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51475018), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 3162018) and Innovation Practice Foundation of BUAA for Graduates (No. YCSJ-01-201709). The authors would like to express acknowledgement to Ministry-of-Education Key Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics from Beihang University for the D1 open–circuit low-speed wind tunnel experiments. Meanwhile, the authors especially would like to express acknowledgement to Prof. Tao Bai for his valuable suggestion.


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Copyright information

© Jilin University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xuepeng Li
    • 1
  • Wei Wang
    • 1
  • Yifan Tang
    • 2
  • Linqing Wang
    • 1
  • Tao Bai
    • 3
  • Fei Zhao
    • 1
  • Yushen Bai
    • 4
  1. 1.Robotics InstituteBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Energy and Power EngineeringBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Ministry-of-Education Key Laboratory of Fluid MechanicsBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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