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Proceedings Paper

Design, characterization, and testing of macro-fiber composite actuators for integration on a fixed-wing UAV
Author(s): Richard J. Prazenica; Daewon Kim; Hever Moncayo; Boutros Azizi; May Chan
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Paper Abstract

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. Therefore, 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 the research discussed in this paper, macro-fiber composite (MFC) aileron actuators are designed for implementation on a medium-scale, fixed-wing UAV in order to achieve roll control. Macro-fiber composites, which consist of piezoceramic fibers and electrodes embedded in an epoxy matrix, are an attractive choice for UAV actuation because they are manufactured as lightweight, thin sheets and, when implemented as bending actuators, can provide both large structural deflections and high bandwidth. In this study, several MFC aileron actuator designs were 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. Wind tunnel test results are presented to assess the changes in lift and drag coefficients for different levels of MFC aileron actuation. Preparations for open-loop flight testing using a Skywalker UAV with MFC ailerons are also discussed. 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.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 April 2014
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 9057, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2014, 905715 (16 April 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2045277
Show Author Affiliations
Richard J. Prazenica, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. (United States)
Daewon Kim, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. (United States)
Hever Moncayo, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. (United States)
Boutros Azizi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. (United States)
May Chan, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9057:
Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2014
Wei-Hsin Liao, Editor(s)

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