Wingwall aerodynamic interactions in free flying, maneuvering MAVs

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Aerospace Engineering


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Advisor: Aaron Altman


Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are small remotely piloted air vehicles that can be flown between or inside of buildings for military or surveillance purposes. This type of flight in the urban environment involves many aerodynamic hazards. The research in this thesis investigates how the aerodynamic interactions between a maneuvering MAV's wingtip vortex and its distance away from a building wall could affect the MAV's flight controls. Free flight particle image velocimetry (PIV) testing and wind tunnel testing are used to investigate the aerodynamic interactions between a MAV wingtip vortex and a wall. Elliptical instabilities and a vortex rebound off of the wall are discovered in the PIV testing while the wind tunnel results show a higher aircraft coefficient of lift near the wall. All of these results force the aircraft to experience a rolling motion while flying along a wall. It is imperative that a MAV anticipate this motion and adjust its flight controls in order to accurately fly along a wall and successfully complete its mission in an urban environment.


Micro air vehicles Aerodynamics Testing, Drone aircraft Aerodynamics Testing

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