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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Drag Identification & Reduction Technology (DIRECT) for Elastically Shaped Air Vehicles

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Drag Identification & Reduction Technology (DIRECT) for Elastically Shaped Air Vehicles

The Variable Camber Continuous Trailing Edge Flap (VCCTEF) concept offers potential improvements in the aerodynamic efficiency of aircraft through real time wing shaping. NASA and Boeing have been studying the suitability of this concept to address the drag reduction problem in aircraft with reduced-stiffness wings. However, reduced stiffness may lead to wing flutter. In addition, displacements of VCCTEF control surfaces are limited and subject to highly nonlinear and time-varying constraints. Hence control design needs to solve a constrained multi-objective optimization problem. To address these challenges, in Phase I SSCI carried out initial development and testing of the Drag Identification and Reduction Technology (DIRECT). The DIRECT software estimates wing structural modes on-line and uses that information in a robust predictive controller design. Based on using Evolutionary Optimization and off-line analysis, DIRECT estimates wind disturbances on-line and selects optimal controller parameters from a table lookup to achieve on-line drag minimization. Building upon the successful Phase I development, in Phase II we propose to extend the DIRECT approach and evaluate its performance through high-fidelity simulations and wind-tunnel testing. Specific Phase II tasks include: (i) Test Phase I flutter suppression algorithms and PSC algorithms in a GTM simulation with flexible modes and VCCTEF control surfaces; (ii) Extend and enhance the drag minimization approach by developing innovative Performance Seeking Control (PSC) algorithms; and (iii) Compare the features of PSC and other available performance seeking control algorithms through wind-tunnel testing at the University of Washington Aerodynamics Laboratory (UWAL). Professor Eli Livne of University of Washington and Mr. James Urnes, Sr. will provide technical support under the project. Phase III will focus on commercialization of SYMPTOM software to manned aircraft and UAS.

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