Morphing Control Surface for Improved Efficiency and Maneuverability
The current technology push in advanced aerospace flight systems is to replicate certain features seen in nature. Morphing aircraft, particularly unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), have thus received considerable attention in this respect. Aside from safety and aerodynamic efficiency, a single morphing UAV platform could possess the ability to carry out multiple mission objectives. Nearly all forms of conformal morphing vehicles have since been investigated, including twist, camber, span, and sweep, where simulation results showed the potential performance benefits that could be achieved. It was not until recently that material and actuator technology had reached a point of development that allowed viable prototypes to be fabricated and tested, however. Having successfully researched, designed, and evaluated supporting technologies, Techno-Sciences, Inc. proposes to develop an innovative morphing control surface system that is capable of in-plane (span extension) reconfiguration, sized and scaled for a candidate subsonic fixed-wing UAV platform. This morphing system will make use of high performance, light weight actuators to articulate the shape change, a morphing core to provide structural support, and a flexible skin as a viable aerodynamic surface layer. All components are custom-made in-house from COTS elements and have patents pending. The proposed research plan will work to design the morphing system to fit inside the volumetric constraints of the host vehicle with the goal of increasing efficiency and maneuverability. The Phase I program will end with prototype evaluations of a morphing wing section under representative loading. Successful demonstration here will lead to integration with the UAV and a flight test in Phase II.
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