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UAV Flight Control with Macrofiber Composite Actuators

PI Richard Prazenica

Smart materials offer several potential advantages for UAV flight control applications compared to traditional servo actuators. One important benefit is that smart materials are lightweight and can be embedded directly into the structure of a wing or control surface.

Because of this, they can reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and eliminate the need for mechanical appendages that may compromise the form factor of the wing, benefits that become more significant as the size of the vehicle decreases. In addition, smart materials can be used to realize continuous camber change of aerodynamic surfaces. Such designs offer improved aerodynamic efficiency compared to the discontinuous deflections of traditional hinged control surfaces driven by servo actuators. In this project, a macro-fiber composite (MFC) aileron actuators are designed for implementation on a medium-scale, fixed-wing UAV in order to achieve roll control. In this study, several MFC aileron actuator designs are evaluated through a combination of theoretical and experimental analysis.

The current design consists of glass fiber composite ailerons with two unimorph MFC actuators embedded in each aileron to produce upward deflection. In addition, the development of a closed-loop, autonomous flight control system for the Skywalker is overviewed in preparation for conducting simulations and flight testing of an autonomous Skywalker with MFC aileron actuators.

Research Dates

06/15/2015 to 06/15/2017

Researchers

  • Boutros Azizi
    Department
    Engineering Fundamentals
    Degrees
    Ph.D., M.S., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Dae Won Kim
    Department
    Aerospace Engineering Department
    Degrees
    Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Hever Moncayo
    Department
    Aerospace Engineering Department
    Degrees
    Ph.D., West Virginia University
  • Richard Prazenica
    Department
    Aerospace Engineering Department
    Degrees
    Ph.D., M.S., University of Florida
    B.S., University of Pennsylvania

Tags: aerospace engineering unmanned and autonomous systems

Categories: Faculty-Staff