Scientists have long used the unsteady vortex lattice method (UVLM) to simulate flapping-wing flight. However, there are few open-source UVLM solvers designed for research in this field. The newly released Ptera Software is, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, the only open-source UVLM solver for flapping wings that is in active development. This report documents the next steps in Ptera Software’s progress: the validation of its results and the optimization of its performance. Comparing Ptera Software’s output to high-fidelity experimental data of the pressures on a flapping-wing robot shows that the simulated results predict the trends and magnitudes of the net lift over time with reasonable accuracy. Also, by using several computational methods, the researchers optimized the source code such that the solver’s latest iteration is over three times faster than previous versions. The present results demonstrate that Ptera Software correctly implements the UVLM and can simulate flapping-wing flight with reasonable accuracy under this method’s assumptions. Additionally, it is now fast enough for use as an iterative tool in the design of novel flapping-wing micro aerial vehicles (FWMAVs).

Document Type

Final Report

Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Class Name

Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences Independent Study

Date of Submission