There are nearly a million known species
of flying insects and 13 000 species
of flying warm-blooded vertebrates, including mammals, birds and bats. While in flight, their wings not only move forward relative to the air, they also flap up and down, plunge and sweep, so that both lift and thrust can be generated and balanced, accommodate uncertain surrounding environment, with superior flight stability and dynamics with highly varied speeds and missions. As the size of a flyer is reduced, the wing-to-body mass ratio tends to decrease as well. Furthermore, these flyers use integrated system consisting of wings to generate aerodynamic forces, muscles to move the wings, and sensing and control systems to guide and manoeuvre. In this article, recent advances in insect-scale flapping-wing aerodynamics, flexible wing structures, unsteady flight environment, sensing, stability and control are reviewed with perspective offered. In particular, the special features of the low Reynolds number flyers associated with small sizes, thin and light structures, slow flight with comparable wind gust speeds, bioinspired fabrication of wing structures, neuron-based sensing and adaptive control are highlighted.
Relevant Topics in General Science