Team MechFly’s flapping wing MAV takes 1st and 3rd places at Taiwan’s unmanned aircraft competition

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Team MechFly’s flapping wing MAV takes 1st and 3rd places at Taiwan’s unmanned aircraft competition

15 May 2017



Image: Team MechFly with their flapping wing MAVs. Embedded photo shows the 1st place trophy and 3rd place plaque.

Heartiest congratulations to Team MechFly 2017! The team clinched both 1st and 3rd places in the Flapping Wing category of the Taiwan Innovative Unmanned Aircraft Design Competition (TIUADC) held at Gangshan, Taiwan on 6 May 2017.

Due to the team size limitation set by the competition organiser, Team MechFly was split into two smaller teams and both participated with similar flapping wing MAV platforms, but fabricated using different materials and techniques. The MechFly teams faced tough competition from the reigning champion team from ROC Air Force Academy (Taiwan), and trailed behind in the missions. While one of the MechFly teams had to settle for second runner-up after the final flight trial, the other MechFly team had one last chance to win the championship. The team then executed a risky strategy during their last flight trial and decided to fly through the highest score hoop repeatedly. The risk stemmed from the hoop being the smallest one, and many teams tried but failed, much less doing it repeatedly. The strategy eventually paid off thanks to the excellent piloting skill of the team captain and the exceptional stability of the flapping wing platform, and the team emerged champions! Great job guys!

More information about Team MechFly

Team MechFly is a flapping wing micro-air-vehicle competition team sponsored by Airbus, consisting of eight NUS Mechanical Engineering undergraduate students. The team designed and fabricated flapping wing MAVs from scratch, which includes an iterative design process that covers multidisciplinary knowledge like aerodynamic analysis, finite element method (FEM) analysis, computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), fabrication and assembly, flight tests, etc.

Flapping wing is a bio-inspired solution to create small flying machines. It is known that flapping wing is aerodynamically more efficient than conventional rotary wing and fixed wing at very small scale due to the utilization of unsteady aerodynamics. However, the challenges of designing a flapping wing MAV are unsteady aerodynamic and structural optimization, electronics miniaturization, fabrication of small parts, and flight stability, of which some of these areas are still on-going research. Hence, the team has to conduct quite a lot of literature survey, and improvise along the way. The whole process is a real engineering challenge that pushes the team to the limit of their innovation and project management skills.

In March 2017, the team participated in the Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition (SAFMC). SAFMC is the largest annual flying machine competition in Singapore since 2009, mainly participated by schools and institutions of higher learning (IHL) in Singapore. The team competed in the Unconventional Category, aiming at demonstrating one of the most unconventional and lightweight platforms in the competition. Although the team did not manage to finish the flight mission, the MechFly turned out to be the lightest platform in the competition, and the only platform that is not a multi-rotors configuration. Due to that, the team was given the Special Recognition Award, and it is the only team that was being featured on Cyberpioneer, the official news website of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

On May 6, 2017, Team MechFly flew to Gangshan, Taiwan to compete in the Taiwan Innovative Unmanned Aircraft Design Competition (TIUADC). It is the first overseas competition of any NUS Flapping Wing MAV team. TIUADC is one of the largest annual flying machine competitions in the region since 2007, and it is the only one that features a Flapping Wing Category. Traditionally, the competition is attended by schools and IHL in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Occasionally, it attracts teams from Thailand, and Indonesia. In the past, there were also fixed-wing teams from Singapore. Team MechFly participated in the Flapping Wing Category. The teams were judged by their written reports, oral presentations, and flight missions. The flight missions consisted of endurance flight (the longer flight endurance, the higher the score), straight line flight (the straighter the flight trajectory, and the faster to complete the distance, the higher the score), and trajectory flight (earns scores by popping balloons and flying through hoops). All flights were conducted using remote control and must be piloted by students.

In total, Team MechFly took home the championship and second runner-up, earned the two top spots of written report and oral presentation, full points for endurance flight, and the champion team also earned full points for trajectory flight.

Kudos to Team MechFly!

Visit Team MechFly at https://www.facebook.com/NUS.ME.MECHFLY/

Students who are interested in joining the team can contact Dr. Chan Woei Leong at tslcwl@nus.edu.sg.