Macro Fiber Composite Actuated Control Surfaces with Applications Toward Ducted Fan Vehicles

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Virginia Tech


In most man-made flight, vehicle control is achieved by deflecting flaps. However, in nature, morphing surfaces are found on both flying and swimming creatures. Morphing is used in nature because it is a more efficient form of control. This thesis investigates using morphing flaps to control a class of UAVs known as ducted fan vehicles. Specifically, this thesis discusses both the challenges and benefits of using morphing control surfaces.

To achieve morphing, a piezoelectric device known as Macro Fiber Composites is used. These devices are embedded in the skin of the vehicles control surface, and when actuated, they cause the control surface to increase or decrease camber. This thesis describes experiments that were performed to investigate the performance of this type of actuator. Specifically, the actuation bandwidth of these devices is presented and compared to a servo. Results show that the morphing control surfaces can actuate at frequencies twice as high as a servo.



PZT, morphing control surfaces, UAVs, ducted fan, MAVs, macro fiber composite, piezoelectric