Inflatable wing UAV experimental and analytical flight mechanics
Brown, Ainsmar Xavier
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The field of man portable UASs (Unmanned Aerial Systems) is currently a key area in improving the fielded warrior's capabilities. Pressurized aerostructures that can perform with similar results of solid structures can potentially change how this objective may be accomplished now and in the future. Construction with high density polymers and other composites is currently part of active inflatable vehicle research. Many shape forming techniques have also been adapted from the airship and balloon manufacturing industry. Additional research includes modeling techniques so that these vehicles may be included in simulation packages. A flight dynamics simulation with reduced-order aeroelastic effects derived with Lagrangian and Eulerian dynamics approaches were developed and optimized to predict the behavior of inflatable flexible structures in small UASs. The models are used to investigate the effects of significant structural deflections (warping) on aerodynamic surfaces. The model also includes compensation for large buoyancy ratios. Existing literature documents the similarity in structural dynamics of rigid beams and inflatable beams before wrinkling. Therefore, wing bending and torsional modes are approximated with the geometrically exact ntrinsic beam equations using NATASHA (Nonlinear Aeroelastic Trim And Stability for HALE Aircraft) code. An approach was also suggested for inclusion of unique phenomena such as wrinkling during flight. A simplified experimental setup will be designed to examine the most significant results observed from the simulation model. These methods may be suitable for specifying limits on flight maneuvers for inflatable UASs.