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Chapter: Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies, new invention technology, Research project papers,

Distributed Aerostructural Sensing and Control

Distributed Aerostructural Sensing and Control
Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies, Advancing technology and science through flight 2014, Research, Technology, and Engineering Accomplishments, National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA, Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. new invention technology, Research project papers;

Distributed Aerostructural Sensing

and Control


Armstrong researchers are investigating ways to increase aircraft maneuverability, safety, and fuel efficiency by applying networks of smart sensors distributed across an aircraft. This 'fly-by-feel' concept could enable a vehicle to autonomously react to changes in aerodynamic and structural conditions. Distributed pliable membrane sensors obtain real-time information and convert it into aerodynamic information that can be used for adaptive flight control. In comparison with conventional sensing technologies, which measure aerodynamic parameters from only an aircraft's fuselage, these smart sensors enable localized measurements at nearly any surface on an aircraft structure. The ultimate goal is to feed real-time sensor information into a control scheme such that the aircraft can autonomously control the position


of a surface appropriately for active aeroelastic wing control.


Work to date: The team has conducted sensing and analysis work with hot-film sensors installed on Gulfstream III, F/A-18, and X-56A aircraft.


Looking ahead: Next steps involve more investigative work with the X-56 aircraft, specifically hot-film sensors combined with fiber optic strain sensing and associated data fusion algorithms to address distributed sensing and control applications.


Partners: Texas A&M University, California Institute of Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Air Force


Material Command, Air Force Research Laboratory, and Tao Systems, Inc.





 High-performance: Offers certifiable performance and stability guarantees and aerostructural efficiency

 Improved safety: Provides localized data, enabling engineers to be more confident that design specifications offer appropriate safety margins



 Aircraft testing and design


 Improved drag reduction and increased lift performance


 Active aeroelastic control of flexible structures



Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies


Armstrong innovators design and integrate data acquisition systems for research, support, and one-of-a-kind platforms. In many cases, these systems leverage commercial off-the-shelf parts to keep costs low and ease integration with legacy systems. At the same time, these cutting-edge data systems are finding innovative ways not only to collect data efficiently but also to flexibly configure collection parameters.


Designed for aerospace applications, many of these innovations can benefit numerous industries in a variety of situations where data optimization is critical, such as manufacturing operations, business processes, and energy management, to name a few.


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