LARGE MOTION VISUALIZATION AND ESTIMATION FOR FLAPPING WING SYSTEMS
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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. Motion capture of a free flying insect is considered by using three synchronized high-speed cameras. A solid finite element representation is used as a reference body and successive snapshots in time of the displacement fields are reconstructed via an optimization procedure. An objective function is formulated, and various shape difference definitions are considered. The proposed methodology is first studied for a synthetic case of a flexible cantilever structure undergoing large deformations, and then applied to a Manduca Sexta (hawkmoth) in free flight. The three-dimensional motions of this flapping system are reconstructed from image date collected by using three cameras. The complete deformation geometry of this system is analyzed. Finally, a computational investigation is carried out to understand the flow physics and aerodynamic performance by prescribing the body and wing motions in a fluid-body code. This thesis work contains one of the first set of such motion visualization and deformation analyses carried out for a hawkmoth in free flight. The tools and procedures used in this work are widely applicable to the studies of other flying animals with flexible wings as well as synthetic systems with flexible body elements.