Motion visualization and estimation for flapping wing systems


Studies of fluid-structure interactions associated with flexible structures such as flapping wings require the capture and quantification of large motions of bodies that may be opaque. As a case study, motion capture of a free flying Manduca sexta, also known as hawkmoth, is considered by using three synchronized high-speed cameras. A solid finite element (FE) representation is used as a reference body and successive snapshots in time of the displacement fields are reconstructed via an optimization procedure. One of the original aspects of this work is the formulation of an objective function and the use of shadow matching and strain-energy regularization. With this objective function, the authors penalize the projection differences between silhouettes of the captured images and the FE representation of the deformed body. The process and procedures undertaken to go from high-speed videography to motion estimation are discussed, and snapshots of representative results are presented. Finally, the captured free-flight motion is also characterized and quantified.

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Support received for this project from the US National Science Foundation (Grant CMMI-1250187) and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Grant FA95501510134) is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Tzu-Sheng Shane Hsu.

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Hsu, TS.S., Fitzgerald, T., Nguyen, V.P. et al. Motion visualization and estimation for flapping wing systems. Acta Mech. Sin. 33, 327–340 (2017).

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  • Insect flight
  • Deformable body
  • High-speed videography
  • Motion estimation