MechaRaptor is an experimental setup built for the analysis of medium-scale tandem flapping wing systems. This project represents one of the main experimental parts of my Ph.D. thesis.

The recent developments of UAV systems and bio-inspired drones have generated interest in flapping and tandem wing applications. While most systems focus on low Reynolds numbers (insect-like scale or low flapping frequencies at larger scale), there is not much work being conducted at higher Reynolds numbers. MechaRaptor aims at filling this gap by analyzing in detail the aerodynamic properties of a medium-scale tandem flapping system at moderate frequency (~10Hz).

Experimental setup

The analysis will be carried out through extensive wind tunnel testing for various wing geometries with different positioning, flapping frequencies or phase between the two sets. The wings can also be pitched at specific angles before the beginning of the experiment (no active pitch).

The setup is made of two completely independent sets of wings. Each module is mounted on a 3-axis load sensor that will measure its contribution to the whole system. Rotary encoders (12-bits) are placed on each wing axis in order to measure the flapping angle simultaneously with the forces. The measure of the instantaneous angle alongside the forces will allow for the numerical replication of the results in a later stage of my thesis. This will most likely be done with the Unsteady Vortex Lattice Method. Finally, current and tension sensors are placed on the power supplies of each module in order to measure the overall power consumed by each set of wings.

Project roadmap

Status Item
Done      Model design
Done      Model manufacturing
Done      Motor controller module
Done      Model assembly and calibration
November 2022      Wind tunnel campaign 1 (flat rectangular wings)
TBD      Wind tunnel campaign 2 (cambered wings)


The various results of this research can be found in the publication reference at the bottom of this page.

The initial phase of the experiments will be the topic of a presentation at the AIAA SciTech 2023 Forum in National Harbour, MD, USA. The presentation is scheduled for the Session APA-90, Bio-Inspired Aerodynamics III, on January 27th at 4:00 PM.

Additional info

All this research will be published in accordance with the open-science principles as soon as possible. This will include:

  • Raw wind tunnel data and scripts for post-processing
  • Papers, presentations, posters, videos, photos, etc
  • CAD parts (STEP format)
  • Electronics (Arduino script, wiring diagrams, bill of materials, etc)
  • Reports, manuals, etc. for the utilization of the setup

[Link to come by end of year 2023]

Thomas Lambert
Thomas Lambert
PhD Student in Aerospace Engineering

My current research focuses on unsteady and experimental aerodynamics. In specifics, I am studying the capabilities of tandem wings systems under flapping motion.