Advanced Kinematics for Morphing Aircraft Actuation

BKS Woods, MI Friswell (Swansea University) & NM Wereley (University of Maryland, USA)

AIAA Journal, Vol. 52, No. 4, April 2014, pp. 788-798


Morphing aircraft concepts require powerful, compact and lightweight actuators in order to realize the significant changes in shape and aerodynamics desired. One source of inefficiency and lost performance common to all types of actuators is the mismatch between the force versus stroke profile available from the actuator and that required by the load. This work investigates a novel spiral spooling pulley mechanism that allows for kinematic tailoring of the actuator force profile to better match the force required to drive a given load. To show the impact of kinematic tailoring on actuator efficiency, a representative case study is made of a Pneumatic Artificial Muscle driven morphing camber airfoil employing the Fish Bone Active Camber concept. By using an advanced spiral pulley kinematic mechanism, the actuator force profile is successfully tailored to match that required, with an additional torque margin added to account for any unmodeled effects. Genetic algorithm optimization is used to select the geometric parameters of the spiral pulley that maximize energy efficiency of the actuator while ensuring it is able to produce the required torque levels. The performance of the optimized spiral pulley is compared to a baseline case employing an optimized circular pulley which does not alter the shape of the actuator force profile to show the performance improvement provided by the kinematic tailoring.

Paper Availability

This material has been published in the AIAA Journal, Vol. 52, No. 4, April 2014, pp. 788-798. Unfortunately the copyright agreement with AIAA does not allow for the PDF file of the paper to be available on this website. However the paper is available from AIAA - see the link below.

Link to paper using doi: 10.2514/1.J052808

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