A 6-DOF Motion Test Apparatus (MTA) for Characterizing the Dynamic Properties of Micro Air Vehicles
Department of Defense
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4925 Harrison Street, Pittsburgh, PA, -
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AbstractABSTRACT: The challenges in the operations of small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) and micro air vehicles (MAVs) in terms of required agility and benign flying qualities require a superior understanding of their basic flight mechanics and vehicle dynamics. Flight test data for MAVs are sparse, and wind tunnel unsteady aerodynamic data of MAVs with flexible wing structures are non-existent. Although progress has been made in the last decade, reliable MAV characterization requires the validation and support of experimental testing. The core component of the proposed project is the design of the robotic arm for accurate six degree-of-freedom (DOF) motions of a MAV in a wind tunnel with position and force/moment feedback. The proposed six-DOF apparatus will give the research community the possibility to explore new experimental boundaries; support ongoing numerical modeling on low speed aerodynamics, unsteady flight dynamics, and bio-inspired flight techniques; develop innovative control systems for highly flexible and articulated flying structures, and validate novel navigation algorithms. The resulting experimental apparatus will be especially beneficial to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the AFRL by presenting dedicated instrumentation to be jointly used by researchers from different organizations. BENEFIT: The proposed six-DOF motion test apparatus will give to the research community the possibility to explore new experimental boundaries in supporting ongoing numerical modeling for low-speed aerodynamics, unsteady flight dynamics, bio-inspired flight techniques, innovative control systems for highly flexible and articulated flying structures, and for validating novel navigation algorithms. The proposed test apparatus addresses important strategic needs from the Department of Defense in miniature autonomous air vehicle basic research and experimental capabilities. Other potential applications for the six-DOF device are wind tunnel simulation tests of wing load separation, highly dynamic motions, guidance and control research on biological specimens (e.g. hawkmoths, bees and dragonflies), and dynamics effects on propulsion systems (rotors, propellers and flapping wings). The civilian research community will also extract benefits from the proposed research on flight dynamics and aerodynamic unsteadiness and related experimental techniques. In particular the following applications are envisioned: Experiments on the interaction between unsteady flow and the flexibility of miniature structures could improve the design of micro-disposable fliers for agricultural applications (artificial pollination). High-DOF simulations can help research on high speed reentry dynamics for space missions. The six-DOF device could be used to improve the level of flight capabilities and safety of educational flight simulators and scientific toys.
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