As technology improves, small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAV) have been identified for their utility in a variety of applications in which larger unmanned craft may be incapable of accomplishing mission objectives. These aircraft with their small size and long flight durations are ideal for hazardous inspection and long duration surveillance missions. One challenge preventing the widespread adoption of these systems is their instability to abrupt changes in the flow field around them due to wind gusts or flow separation. Currently, traditional rigid body based sensors are implemented in their flight control systems, which are sufficient in higher inertia aircraft for accurate control. However, in low inertia SUAV applications during a flow event, often, the inertial sensors are incapable of detecting the event before catastrophic failure. A method of directly measuring the flow information around the SUAV in order to generate control commands will improve the stability of these systems by allowing these systems to directly react to flow events. In contrast, established inertial based control systems can only react to changes in vehicle dynamics caused by flow events. Such a method is developed utilizing a network of pressure and shear sensors embedded in the wing and used to create "flow images" which can be easily manipulated to generate control commands. A method of accurately calculating the aerodynamic moment acting on the aircraft based on the flow image is also developed for implementation of flow image-based control in real world systems.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Thompson, Kenneth, "Pressure Image Based Attitude Controller for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6251.