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Proceedings Paper

Wireless and distributed sensing of the shape of morphing structures
Author(s): W. Akl; S. Poh; A. Baz
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Paper Abstract

Monitoring the shape of morphing is essential for their effective and safe operation. However, current sensing systems such as fiber optic sensors are expensive, rigid, and unsuitable for monitoring large shape changes without being susceptible to failure or performance degradation. Therefore, a new class of sensors that does not suffer from these serious limitations is presented. The proposed sensor system relies in its operation on a specially configured distributed network of wires that are embedded in the composite fabric of these structures. The output of the sensor network is wirelessly transmitted to a control processor to compute the linear and angular deflections, the shape, and maps of the strain distribution and power flow over the entire surface of the morphing. The deflection and shape information are vital to ascertain that the structure is properly deployed and that its surfaces are operating wrinkle-free. The strain map ensures that the structure is not loaded excessively to adversely affect its service life. While the power flow map provides a metric that uniquely identifies the structural health in a manner that mimics biological systems which tend to redistribute the load and redirect its path away from the injured sites. The equations governing the operation of the sensor network are developed for a beam-like morphing structure using the non-linear theory of finite elements. The resulting equations will provide the sensor with its unique interpolation capabilities that make it possible to map the linear and angular deflection and strain fields as well as the power flow distribution over the entire surface of the morphing structure. The theoretical and experimental characteristics of the sensor network are determined under static and dynamic loading conditions. The results obtained are used to demonstrate the merits and potential of this new class of sensors as a viable means for monitoring the static and dynamic deflections of 1-D morphing structures. Integration of the proposed sensor network with the supporting electronics and with arrays of flexible actuators will enable the development of a self-contained, actively controlled, and autonomously operating new generation of morphing.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 April 2006
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6174, Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems, 61740V (5 April 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.658499
Show Author Affiliations
W. Akl, Ain Shams Univ. (Egypt)
S. Poh, Univ. of Maryland, College Park (United States)
A. Baz, Univ. of Maryland, College Park (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6174:
Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems
Masayoshi Tomizuka; Chung-Bang Yun; Victor Giurgiutiu, Editor(s)

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