Model Reduction and Control of Very Flexible Aircraft
Our approach to simulate very flexible aircraft consists on employing an Unsteady Vortex Lattice Method (UVLM) to solve the vehicle's aerodynamics coupled with a geometrically-exact nonlinear beam formulation for the structure. The resulting system, in particular the aerodynamic subsystem that can model long discrete wakes, is of significant dimension and thus impractical for controller synthesis.
Therefore, model reduction techniques are paramount to reduce the system to a dimension fit for controller design. My research will consist on exploring different methods to reduce the order of the system to an appropriate size for a controller to be designed. Such methods include moment matching for linear and nonlinear systems, balancing, etc. One of the interests will be on developing efficient routines that can update successively update the reduced model in real time for it to be used in a Model Predictive Control framework.
Optimal trajectory control of very flexible aircraft is also a key reserach topic. Given the typical solar powered configurations of these vehicles, where having a positive energy balance throughout a solar cycle is often a key constraint. It is of high importance to achieve trajectories that will guarantee perpetual endurance. This is already a non-trivial endeavour for rigid aircraft that needs to be expanded to account for the non-negligible elastic deformations particular to these vehicles.
SHARPy is the tool currently used for the simulation of very flexible aircraft. The aim will be to expand SHARPy's capabilities into the model reduction and controller design spaces.
2013-2018. M.Eng (1st Class) Aeronautical Engineering with a Year in Industry. Imperial College London.
2016-2017. Landing Gear Systems Engineer. Airbus. Filton, UK
City and Guilds Building, Room 308
Department of Aeronautics
Imperial College, South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ