Next Generation Adaptive Design Technology for Micro and Autonomous Rotorcraft

Period of Performance: 01/01/2001 - 12/31/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Continuum Dynamics, Inc.
34 Lexington Avenue Array
Ewing, NJ 08618
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Recent developments have illustrated the tremendous potential of very small-scale rotorcraft (Micro Rotorcraft or MRCs) for entirely new missions such as remote sensing, surveillance, and autonomous exploration. Vehicle design at this scale is constrained by performance limitations inherent in operating at low Reynolds number. This effort will exploit new, lightweight Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) actuation devices and sophisticated design optimization tools to create an adaptive micro-rotor system with the potential for doubling the useful load or endurance MRCs. New SMA device technology will allow improved performance for diverse rotorcraft operating conditions while drawing minimal steady-state power, and will be the enabling technology for a family of adaptive rotor designs for next generation MRCs. Phase I will exploit recent insights into low Re airfoil behavior as well as enhancements to established rotorcraft modeling and optimization software. A Phase II goal will be to produce new, comprehensive optimization software to support design of next generation rotorcraft concepts ranging from low Re MRC¿s and planetary exploration rotorcraft to advanced full-size multi-rotor aircraft. This software will form the foundation of a hierarchy of tools enabling multi-disciplinary optimization of rotorcraft, capitalizing on the high fidelity and computational speed of the core analysis.