An Application of GPU Acceleration in CFD Simulation for Insect Flight


  • Yang Yao National University of Singapore
  • Khoon-Seng Yeo National University of Singapore



The mobility and maneuverability of winged insects have been attracting attention, but the knowledge on the behavior of free-flying insects is still far from complete.
This paper presents a computational study on the aerodynamics and kinematics of a free-flying model fruit-fly.
An existing integrative computational fluid dynamics (CFD) framework was further developed using CUDA technology and adapted for the free flight simulation on heterogenous clusters.
The application of general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU) significantly accelerated the insect flight simulation and made it less computational expensive to find out the steady state of the flight using CFD approach.
A variety of free flight scenarios has been simulated using the present numerical approach, including hovering, fast rectilinear flight, and complex maneuvers.
The vortical flow surrounding the model fly in steady flight was visualized and analyzed.
The present results showed good consistency with previous studies.


Ang, S.J., Yeo, K.S., Chew, C.S., Shu, C.: A singular-value decomposition (SVD)-based generalized finite difference (GFD) method for close-interaction moving boundary flow problems. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering 76(12), 1892–1929 (2008)

Bergou, A.J., Ristroph, L., Guckenheimer, J., Cohen, I., Wang, Z.J.: Fruit Flies Modulate Passive Wing Pitching to Generate In-Flight Turns. Physical Review Letters 104(14) (Apr 2010)

Chew, C., Yeo, K.S., Shu, C.: A generalized finite-difference (GFD) ALE scheme for incompressible flows around moving solid bodies on hybrid meshfree-cartesian grids. Journal of Computational Physics 218(2), 510–548 (2006)

Gao, T., Lu, X.Y.: Insect normal hovering flight in ground effect. Physics of Fluids 20(8), 087101 (2008)

Jardin, T., Farcy, A., David, L.: Three-dimensional effects in hovering flapping flight. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 702, 102–125 (Jul 2012)

Kolomenskiy, D., Maeda, M., Engels, T., Liu, H., Schneider, K., Nave, J.C.: Aerodynamic Ground Effect in Fruitfly Sized Insect Takeoff. PLOS ONE 11(3), e0152072 (Mar 2016)

Lentink, D., Dickinson, M.H.: Biofluid dynamic scaling of flapping, spinning and translating fins and wings. Journal of Experimental Biology 212(16), 2691–2704 (Aug 2009)

Lim, T.T., Teo, C.J., Lua, K.B., Yeo, K.S.: On the prolong attachment of leading edge vortex on a flapping wing. Modern Physics Letters B 23(03), 357–360 (2009)

Liu, H.: Integrated modeling of insect flight: From morphology, kinematics to aerodynamics. Journal of Computational Physics 228(2), 439–459 (2009)

Muijres, F.T., Elzinga, M.J., Melis, J.M., Dickinson, M.H.: Flies evade looming targets by executing rapid visually directed banked turns. Science 344(6180), 172–177 (2014)

Nguyen, T.T., Shyam Sundar, D., Yeo, K.S., Lim, T.T.: Modeling and analysis of insect-like flexible wings at low Reynolds number. Journal of Fluids and Structures 62, 294–317 (Apr 2016)

Shyy, W., Aono, H., Kang, C.K., Liu, H.: An introduction to flapping wing aerodynamics. Cambridge aerospace series, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; New York (2013)

Shyy, W., Kang, C.K., Chirarattananon, P., Ravi, S., Liu, H.: Aerodynamics, sensing and control of insect-scale flapping-wing flight. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science 472(2186), 20150712 (2016)

Sun, M., Wang, J.K.: Flight stabilization control of a hovering model insect. Journal of Experimental Biology 210(15), 2714–2722 (Aug 2007)

Wang, X.Y., Yeo, K.S., Chew, C.S., Khoo, B.C.: A SVD-GFD scheme for computing 3d incompressible viscous fluid flows. Computers & Fluids 37(6), 733–746 (2008)

Wang, X.Y., Yu, P., Yeo, K.S., Khoo, B.C.: SVDGFD scheme to simulate complex moving body problems in 3d space. Journal of Computational Physics 229(6), 2314–2338 (2010)

Wu, D., Yeo, K.S., Lim, T.T.: A numerical study on the free hovering flight of a model insect at low reynolds number. Computers & Fluids 103, 234–261 (2014)

Yu, P., Yeo, K.S., Shyam Sundar, D., Ang, S.J.: A three-dimensional hybrid meshfree-Cartesian scheme for fluid-body interaction. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering 88(4), 385–408 (Oct 2011)




How to Cite

Yao, Y., & Yeo, K.-S. (2017). An Application of GPU Acceleration in CFD Simulation for Insect Flight. Supercomputing Frontiers and Innovations, 4(2), 13–26.