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The goal of this research is to develop a lightweight, high bandwidth control actuator that can be integrated on a flapping wing nano air vehicle (NAV). Traditional control actuators for air vehicles including DC servomotors and shape memory alloy are either too heavy or too slow to control a fast moving NAV. This paper develops a new bio-inspired active tail mechanism to stabilize an inverted pendulum with the same mass and inertia as the NAV. An analysis of the dynamic model shows a critical angle at which the control actuator can no longer stabilize the pendulum varies significantly with link lengths and mass ratios. Based on this dynamic model, an LQR controller is developed and implemented as a state space controller on a microcontroller based test setup. Using a gyroscope to measure the pendulum’s angular velocity and estimate the angle, the active tail mechanism was able to stabilize the pendulum for over five minutes before falling due to drift in the gyroscope sensor.

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