Wright State University

Discovering Better Ways to Fly

The mission of the Wright State Center of Excellence for Micro Air Vehicle Research is to enable collaborative, multidisciplinary research into MAV technologies that will dramatically extend the current boundaries of vehicle size, endurance, and agility. The small scale of MAVs presents both an extreme design challenge and a tremendous opportunity to create new types of micro aircraft that can perform tasks that would be humanly impossible.


  • Develop a unique flapping-wing MAV based on insect flight, which can take off and land from any location, hover, use snap acceleration, and perform pinpoint turning
  • Construct a MAV weighing five grams or less with a wingspan of 10 cm or less, with three means of control: left/right, up/down, and a variable flapping frequency
  • Add an onboard camera and transmitter to allow the operator to fly out of sight via real-time video transmission
  • Employ optic flow to move from remote piloting to autonomous flight-control capabilities

Design and Testing

Interdisciplinary approaches to designing, testing, and analyzing MAV technologies are employed, taking advantage of advances in such fields as bio-inspired flow simulation and computational fluid dynamics to replicate insect flight patterns in new types of MAVs.

High Speed Photogrammery Studies Insect Flight Patterns

Our revolutionary, new high-speed photogrammetry system has allowed us to explore a limitless number of new areas. Read more...

MAV Research Projects

  • The Aerodynamics of Flapping-Wing Flight goes beyond conventional fixed-wing aircraft to bio-mimic a bird or insect and test the flight mechanics through computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing.
  • Advanced Design and Manufacturing Techniques at Wright State include the latest advances in precision machinery, such as laser micromachining to produce artificial wings for MAVs based on natural insect wings.
  • Full-Scale Wind Tunnel Testing measures the effects of wind speed and the unsteady aerodynamic force and momentum generated by the flapping-wing MAV model.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation is employed to help determine the optimal size and shape of the MAV model, with the goal of reducing the wingspan without reducing functionality and control.
  • Flight Testing of MAV models has demonstrated outstanding flight performance indoors and out, and the ability to perform acrobatic moves that would be critical for conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions via MAV.
  • Autonomous Flight is the ultimate objective for MAVs developed at Wright State, which will require further development in lightweight sensor technology, energy consumption, control systems, image processing, and airframe architecture.
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