A new scheme to design morphing ornithopter wings using a passive compliant spine is presented in this paper. The objective of this work is to optimize steady level flight performance of an ornithopter by passively implementing the Continuous Vortex Gait (CVG) which requires bending, twist and sweep coupling during the upstroke. An optimization problem is formulated to design a compliant spine for pre-specified bending, sweep, and twist deflections. As a first step to achieving these 3 DOF kinematics, a 1 DOF compliant spine is considered to produce a specified bending deflection during the upstroke for drag reduction while remaining stiff during the downstroke for increased lift. The effect of the relevant geometric design parameters, namely contact gap, angle, and hinge geometry, are considered and optimized to achieve the aforementioned kinematics for both single and multiple joints, which make up a compliant spine. Results presented include the spine design optimization procedure, as well as a complete analysis for a 1DOF compliant spine to illustrate the efficacy of the methodology. This compliant spine design methodology and optimization procedure will be used, in the future, to design the 3-DOF compliant spine for the passively morphing ornithopter.

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