Intelligent Control for Morphing Aircraft

Period of Performance: 07/08/2005 - 07/08/2006


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Barron Assoc., Inc.
Principal Investigator


A morphing aircraft tailors its configuration to optimize performance at very dissimilar flight conditions. To lay the foundation for a truly multi-role aircraft, research efforts are currently focusing on technologies that enable substantial changes to the wing configuration, including 200 percent aspect-ratio, 50 percent surface-area, 5 deg. wing-twist, and 20 deg. wing-sweep variations. Despite significant strides to develop wing/actuation systems that achieve such configuration changes, much work remains to effectively control these systems. The proposed Phase I research will address two significant control challenges associated with advanced morphing wing designs. First, how does one control the aircraft-wing shape itself using multiple, innovative effectors in a dynamic environment characterized by variable loads? Second, how does one integrate wing control and flight control to ensure aircraft stability during wing-state transitions? In Phase I, Barron Associates, NextGen Aeronautics, and Dr. Dan Inman of VT will develop morphing-wing and aircraft models suitable for on-line interrogation in a control law. The team will emphasize the design of real-time control architecture - made up of two integrated nonlinear controllers that exploit these models - to accomplish the stated control objectives. This research sets the stage for Phase II hardware-in-the-loop, wind-tunnel, and (possibly) flight tests of the morphing-aircraft controllers.