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Title:Micro air vehicle motion tracking and aerodynamic modeling
Author(s):Uhlig, Daniel
Director of Research:Selig, Michael S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Selig, Michael S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bragg, Michael B.; Chung, Soon-Jo; Christensen, Kenneth T.
Department / Program:Aerospace Engineering
Discipline:Aerospace Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):unsteady aerodynamics
Micro air vehicle (MAV)
flight dynamics
motion tracking
separation parameter
MAV performance
Abstract:Aerodynamic performance of small-scale fixed-wing flight is not well understood, and flight data are needed to gain a better understanding of the aerodynamics of micro air vehicles (MAVs) flying at Reynolds numbers between 10,000 and 30,000. Experimental studies have shown the aerodynamic effects of low Reynolds number flow on wings and airfoils, but the amount of work that has been conducted is not extensive and mostly limited to tests in wind and water tunnels. In addition to wind and water tunnel testing, flight characteristics of aircraft can be gathered through flight testing. The small size and low weight of MAVs prevent the use of conventional on-board instrumentation systems, but motion tracking systems that use off-board triangulation can capture flight trajectories (position and attitude) of MAVs with minimal onboard instrumentation. Because captured motion trajectories include minute noise that depends on the aircraft size, the trajectory results were verified in this work using repeatability tests. From the captured glide trajectories, the aerodynamic characteristics of five unpowered aircraft were determined. Test results for the five MAVs showed the forces and moments acting on the aircraft throughout the test flights. In addition, the airspeed, angle of attack, and sideslip angle were also determined from the trajectories. Results for low angles of attack (less than approximately 20 deg) showed the lift, drag, and moment coefficients during nominal gliding flight. For the lift curve, the results showed a linear curve until stall that was generally less than finite wing predictions. The drag curve was well described by a polar. The moment coefficients during the gliding flights were used to determine longitudinal and lateral stability derivatives. The neutral point, weather-vane stability and the dihedral effect showed some variation with different trim speeds (different angles of attack). In the gliding flights, the aerodynamic characteristics exhibited quasi-steady effects caused by small variations in the angle of attack. The quasi-steady effects, or small unsteady effects, caused variations in the aerodynamic characteristics (particularly incrementing the lift curve), and the magnitude of the influence depended on the angle-of-attack rate. In addition to nominal gliding flight, MAVs in general are capable of flying over a wide flight envelope including agile maneuvers such as perching, hovering, deep stall and maneuvering in confined spaces. From the captured motion trajectories, the aerodynamic characteristics during the numerous unsteady flights were gathered without the complexity required for unsteady wind tunnel tests. Experimental results for the MAVs show large flight envelopes that included high angles of attack (on the order of 90 deg) and high angular rates, and the aerodynamic coefficients had dynamic stall hysteresis loops and large values. From the large number of unsteady high angle-of-attack flights, an aerodynamic modeling method was developed and refined for unsteady MAV flight at high angles of attack. The method was based on a separation parameter that depended on the time history of the angle of attack and angle-of-attack rate. The separation parameter accounted for the time lag inherit in the longitudinal characteristics during dynamic maneuvers. The method was applied to three MAVs and showed general agreement with unsteady experimental results and with nominal gliding flight results. The flight tests with the MAVs indicate that modern motion tracking systems are capable of capturing the flight trajectories, and the captured trajectories can be used to determine the aerodynamic characteristics. From the captured trajectories, low Reynolds number MAV flight is explored in both nominal gliding flight and unsteady high angle-of-attack flight. Building on the experimental results, a modeling method for the longitudinal characteristics is developed that is applicable to the full flight envelope.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Daniel V. Uhlig
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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