Seminar Series

Supermanoeuvrability in a morphing-wing system


Arion Pons


University of Cambridge, UK

Time & Place

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 14:00:00 NZST in Erskine 240


Birds, bats and other flying creatures are capable of advanced manoeuvring perching, turning, and aerobatic displays in flight regimes that are far beyond the capabilities of normal mechanical aircraft. Such creatures are supermanoeuvrable they are able to manoeuvre beyond stall. Much research effort has gone into the design of biomimetic aircraft propelled and controlled by flapping-wing systems. However, given that high levels of manoeuvrability are observed even in airborne creatures with no thrust capability (e.g. flying frogs and squirrels), it is clear that the supermanoeuvrable and propulsive aspects of flapping-wing flight need not necessarily be associated. The question then arises: to what extent is a non-propulsive morphing-wing aircraft able to attain supermanoeuvrability?

In this seminar we present modelling results indicating that supermanoeuvrability is indeed obtainable by morphing wing aircraft with biomimetic wings and a conventional propulsion system. A hybrid aircraft of this form would have the benefits of conventional propulsion established technology and high airspeeds while retaining (or attaining) supermanoeuvrability, and requiring less actuator capability than an ornithopter. This opens up a wide range of new designs for highly-manoeuvrable micro air vehicles. Having established the potential of such designs, we then develop computational tools to help us explore the space of possible manoeuvres. These tools give us physical insight into the complex dynamics of the morphing aircraft, as well us setting the groundwork for an automatic manoeuvre-designing toolbox that would allow us to build up complex post-stall flight paths and control a supermanoeuvrable aircraft along them.