Intelligent Control for Morphing Aircraft

Period of Performance: 05/18/2006 - 05/18/2008


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Barron Assoc., Inc.
Principal Investigator


Morphing air vehicles constitute an emerging class of aircraft capable of substantial changes in geometry during flight enabling improved performance characteristics and smaller fleets of versatile vehicles. The proposed effort will develop advanced control technologies for morphing aircraft that can: (1) precisely manipulate the morphing planform adhering to physical limitations and actuator constraints, (2) guarantee vehicle stability across all possible planforms and transitions under unsteady aerodynamics, (3) exploit the performance capabilities of different configurations enabled through morphing. The proposed approach consists of three control loops: (1) adaptive flight control comprised of parameter identification and receding horizon optimal control, (2) wing-shape control featuring model-based control augmented with piecewise linear programming to address actuator limitations, (3) integrated command generation that leverages path-planning techniques to generate reference commands for the previous loops subject to constraints. The effort will culminate in real-time implementation of the advanced control algorithms; hardware-in-the-loop demonstrations which encompass morphing while maneuvering and morphing to maneuver are performed using the NextGen Aeronautics N-MAS article. These tests will serve as a risk-reduction step for Phase III flight tests of a DARPA/USAF Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) aircraft using the SBIR-developed control methods.