Investigation of Control Effectors for Ducted Fan VTOL UAVs

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Virginia Tech

Ducted fan VTOL UAVs are currently being designed for use by the Army for surveillance and reconnaissance in the battlefield. The vehicle tested in this research is part of the Honeywell MAV program. Able to be carried in a backpack by a single soldier, it has a duct diameter of 11.5-in. and weighs approximately 20-lbs at takeoff. It is designed for flight up to 50-knots with fan speeds varying between 5000 and 8500 RPM. Reynolds numbers, based on the duct diameter, were on the order of Re = 0.96 x 106 to 4.6 x 106. Various control effectors were mounted to the vehicle and tested for maximum control authority to reduce the nose-up pitch moment created during forward flight or with crosswinds present. Static and wind tunnel tests were conducted to measure each control effector's performance. Box vanes, mounted downstream of the duct, utilized four assemblies, each with three vanes and one flap. This configuration showed adequate results in generating a nose-down pitch moment. Duct deflectors, mounted on the windward strut upstream of the duct, reduced the windward lift produced by both the fan and duct, resulting in a nose-down pitch moment. Opposed vanes, utilizing two vanes and flaps for each of the four assemblies, were designed with the same surface area as the box vanes. With each pair capable of independent vane movement, the opposed vanes were tested with the vanes rotating in tandem for a basic elevator deflection and with the leading edges touching, disrupting the flow at the duct exit. Opposed vanes combined the capabilities of the box vanes and duct deflector. Results show that the opposed vanes were the most practical control effector, offering the most control authority for maximum nose-down pitch moment (up to 80% better) with minimal loss in thrust.

control effector, uav, asymmetric lift, ducted fan