On the Importance of Morphing Deformation Scheduling for Actuation Force and Energy

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Morphing aircraft offer superior properties as compared to non-morphing aircraft. They can achieve this by adapting their shape depending on the requirements of various conflicting flight conditions. These shape changes are often associated with large deformations and strains, and hence dedicated morphing concepts are developed to carry out the required changes in shape. Such intricate mechanisms are often heavy, which reduces, or even completely cancels, the performance increase of the morphing aircraft. Part of this weight penalty is determined by the required actuators and associated batteries, which are mainly driven by the required actuation force and energy. Two underexposed influences on the actuation force and energy are the flight condition at which morphing should take place and the order of the morphing manoeuvres, also called morphing scheduling. This paper aims at highlighting the importance of both influences by using a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with different morphing mechanisms as an example. The results in this paper are generated using a morphing aircraft analysis and design code that was developed at the Delft University of Technology. The importance of the flight condition and a proper morphing schedule is demonstrated by investigating the required actuation forces for various flight conditions and morphing sequences. More importantly, the results show that there is not necessarily one optimal flight condition or morphing schedule and a tradeoff needs to be made.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Number of pages9
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • morphing aircraft
  • actuator force
  • actuator energy
  • system level design
  • preliminary design

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