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Real-Time Structural Overload Control via Control Allocation Optimization
This control methodology utilizes real-time measurements of vehicle structural load to actively respond to and protect against vehicle damage due to structural overload. The innovation utilizes critical point load feedback within an optimal control allocation architecture that constrains the load at those critical points while still producing the control response commanded by a pilot. Specifically, the technology monitors the loads at critical control points and shifts the loading away from points at or near their limits.
Work to date: Using NASA's Full-Scale Advanced Systems Testbed (FAST) aircraft, the Armstrong team targeted the aileron hinge connection as a critical control point. The experiment produced successful results in flight, limiting the aileron hinge moments to below a specified value while maintaining aircraft roll performance with minimal impacts to piloted handling quality ratings.
Looking ahead: Future tests will employ more advanced and unique sensor technologies, such as fiber optic strain sensors, which will improve both the robustness of the approach as well as the ability to measure the load throughout the vehicle structure. This technology could open the door to truly novel approaches to vehicle and control system design, such as adaptive controls and reduced structural design margins.
Effective: Identifies the optimum control surface usage for a given maneuver for both performance and structural loading
Automated: Monitors and alleviates stress on critical load points in real time
Hyperelastic Research/Lightweight Flexible Aircraft
Armstrong engineers are pioneering new research in aircraft design and modeling. Researchers are experimenting with revolutionary hyperelastic wing control technologies that can reduce weight, improve aircraft aerodynamic efficiency, and suppress flutter. Other cutting-edge research involves techniques, models, and analysis tools for flutter suppression and gust-load allevia-tion.Flight projects at Armstrong rely on high-performance aircraft that can support research on lightweight structures and advance control technologies for future efficient, environmentally friendly transport aircraft. This work has applicability beyond flight safety and design optimization.Armstrong's R&D capabilities in this area also can be applied to other vehicles, such as supersonic transports, large space structures, and hypersonic vehicles.
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