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      Perturbation analysis of 6DoF flight dynamics and passive dynamic stability of hovering fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

      Journal of Theoretical Biology

      Models, Biological, Hydrodynamics, Fourier Analysis, physiology, Flight, Animal, anatomy & histology, Drosophila melanogaster, Computer Simulation, Biomechanical Phenomena, Animals, Algorithms

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          Insects exhibit exquisite control of their flapping flight, capable of performing precise stability and steering maneuverability. Here we develop an integrated computational model to investigate flight dynamics of insect hovering based on coupling the equations of 6 degree of freedom (6DoF) motion with the Navier-Stokes (NS) equations. Unsteady aerodynamics is resolved by using a biology-inspired dynamic flight simulator that integrates models of realistic wing-body morphology and kinematics, and a NS solver. We further develop a dynamic model to solve the rigid body equations of 6DoF motion by using a 4th-order Runge-Kutta method. In this model, instantaneous forces and moments based on the NS-solutions are represented in terms of Fourier series. With this model, we perform a systematic simulation-based analysis on the passive dynamic stability of a hovering fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with a specific focus on responses of state variables to six one-directional perturbation conditions during latency period. Our results reveal that the flight dynamics of fruit fly hovering does not have a straightforward dynamic stability in a conventional sense that perturbations damp out in a manner of monotonous convergence. However, it is found to exist a transient interval containing an initial converging response observed for all the six perturbation variables and a terminal instability that at least one state variable subsequently tends to diverge after several wing beat cycles. Furthermore, our results illustrate that a fruit fly does have sufficient time to apply some active mediation to sustain a steady hovering before losing body attitudes. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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