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Micro Air Vehicles

Micro air vehicles (MAVs) are autonomous, light-weight and small-scale flying machines. Typically an MAV has a maximum dimension of 15 cm or less and flight speed around 10 m/s.  MAVs can carry out important military missions that heretofore are beyond human reach or can only be attained at great risk or resource expenditure. To fulfill their potential, MAVs must have the ability to fly in urban settings, tunnels and caves, maintaining forward and hovering flight, maneuver in constrained environments, and "perch" until needed.  However, due to its small size  and low flight speed, the MAV design drastically deviates from that of traditional aircraft practices. 

Because of its potential civilian and military applications, MAV has attracted growing interests from both science and engineering societies.  In the past decade, many MAVs have been designed and tested.  Figures below are four designs representing three wing types. A is a 4.5" fixed wing MAV design of the University of Florida. B is a 6" rotary wing designd by Proxflyer company. C is a 6" flapping wing design of the University of Arizona and D is a 8" flapping wing design of the Naval Postgraduate School.


 Fixed Wing MAV  Rotary Wing MAV  Flapping Wing MAV  Flapping Wing MAV

            Fixed wing                            Rotary wing                      Flapping wing                  Flapping wing


The MAV research involves many challenging topics in fluid dynamics and aerodynamics, including low Reynolds number aerodynamics, fluid/structure interaciton, and vortex dynamics. (1) (2)



  • Shyy, W., Lian, Y., Tang, J., Viieru, D., and Liu, H., Aerodynamics of Low Reynolds Number Flyers, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Alexander, D. E., Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight,  the Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.













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