Innovation Sphere


  • Fan Fei



Project TitleMagnetic Flapping Wing/Fin Resonant System with Simple, Efficient Design
Track Code2017-FEI-67936
Short Description

Bio-Robotics Lab

Purdue Mechanical Engineering

Tagsactuators, magnetics, mechanical engineering, metals, robotics, uav, vibration
Posted DateJul 7, 2017 11:29 AM


Fan Fei

Magnetic Flapping Wing/Fin Resonant System with Simple, Efficient Design


Flapping Wing Micro-Aerial Vehicles (FWMAV) employ complex, inefficient systems for operation. Currently, three general systems have been utilized: piezoelectric cantilever mechanisms, motor driven linkages, and motor gear direct drives. Piezoelectric systems require high voltage to operate and are limited underwater due to their lack of at scale power circuits. Motor driven linkages are used at a larger scale. The motor is running continuously at high efficiency, but it operates at a fixed rate and requires additional actuation to generate control forces/torque for flight. Motor direct drive systems generally use two motors running discontinuously, which leads to suboptimal efficiency. The aforementioned systems require precise fabrication and assembly and suffer from various degrees of structural fatigue due to vibration. Some fail in the matter of minutes.

Technology Summary

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a flapping wing/fin resonant system, which cuts the cost of manufacturing and operates at high efficiency. This technology contains a highly magnetically permeable core and elastic properties to induce increased torque and reduced energy loss, maintaining a well-balanced system. The simplicity of the design makes the system easy to manufacture and energy efficient. In addition to the resonant system's use aerially in flapping wing micro-air vehicles and underwater in flapping fin autonomous underwater vehicles, the actuator can be optimized for any application that needs rotary reciprocating motion or as a vibration haptic device.


  • Actuator has high efficiency
  • Core has high magnetic permeability
  • Well-balanced
  • Simple design, easy to manufacture
  • Energy efficient

Potential Applications

  • Flapping wing micro-air vehicles
  • Flapping fin autonomous underwater vehicles
  • Haptic feedback device

Stage of Development

Process validation in lab

Web Links

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Intellectual Property

Patent Number Issue Date Type Country of Filing
None None Provisional United States